The Soft and the Hardcore (KLP173)
"I don't believe that love can save the world, but I think tenderness might have a chance."
So says Melanie Valera, the throbbing heart and head philosopher of the solo band Tender Forever. A native of Southern France, Valera recently landed in Olympia, Washington, with an impact that nobody can ignore, ready to stay for a while and teach us all a thing or two about the strength in being sensitive. Though a native in the language of love, Valera skips the French and goes straight for the English jugular on her debut full length, The Soft and the Hardcore, with twelve songs that spell out the ups and downs of FEELING IT, in capitalized and crushing detail.
Tender Forever lyrics are fearless. They soar like arrows through the air, landing squarely in the center of one of those juicy hearts you see drawn on the knee of a pair of middle school jeans. "All the stars, and all the kisses, are made to realize that we're all gonna die, but it's never never now, if you kiss me at the right time." "Take It Off" is about taking a shower with a sweetheart: imagining getting in with clothes on, out of shyness about being naked, and then the struggle with getting the clothes off once they are all heavy and wet. The raw directness of her wording matches the raw and juicy quality of the accompanying music. Recorded by Valera on computer and at Dub Narcotic Studio (with Calvin Johnson), the songs embody the intimacy of singing alone into headphones, as well as the force of filling a huge warehouse room with the sound of yourself. Gently aching acoustic guitar songs alternate with elaborately exploding multi-track concoctions: vocal harmonies sandwich up with synthesizers, lay themselves down softly on layers of singing girls, and then get pounded with live and machine drums. Every element is delegated and organized by Valera's deft production, illustrating how it is to be on the inside of the sensation.
The hot core, from which the force of Tender Forever radiates outward, is certainly Valera's live performances. The show is stomped out in time with drum machine beats, sung along with karaoke style, bumped up against and rolled around with in dance party fervor on the venue floor. With an unselfconscious magnetism that was able to, for example, convince a significant handful of newly made friends (Mirah, Anna Oxygen, The Blow, Calvin Johnson) to fly to Bordeaux for a one-day festival, there is an undeniable power to Valera's energy. One might guess that it all adds up to being proof positive of Valera's above stated philosophy: there really is something special about letting oneself be revealed.
- Every Monday
- Take It Off
- The Feeling of Love
- This is Hardcore
- Make Out
- Then if I'm Weird I Want to Share
- Happy Birthday
- Marry Me
- Tender Forever
- The Magic of Crashing Stars