I love the iPod. It has decent quality, it has enough space to hold millions of pirated tracks, and it’s easy to carry around. So I can listen to music while on the go, when I’m busy indulging in mundane tasks normally associated with urban decay; you know, travelling in packed buses/trains, going to work, going out and meeting people and talking about the same things over and over again aimlessly, and so on. But if someone gifted me a fancy-ass gramophone today, I would snatch it with both hands without a second’s hesitation. Because the gramophone is cool as fuck.
The Mavyns are a bit like the old fashioned gramophone that I don’t own – impractical, expensive, and probably not the best way to listen to music regularly, but also something I would kill for to keep at home for a rainy day, when I want to escape from the realities of everyday living. The excessively lo-fi live production on From The Tree of No Ledge takes some getting used to, with the vocals too overpowering at times, and some of the intricacies of the instrumentation getting lost every now and then. But the terribly catchy, dynamic, and fun Beatles-esque melodies that drive the wheel on this mammoth 13-track record make this an elaborately pleasurable listen. There’s a vintage old school charm running through the branches of From The Tree of No Ledge, and I found myself playing ‘Little Woman’ endlessly in my head, complete with the languid vocals and the playful guitar line that keeps coming and going. It’s them at their finest. Paradoxically, despite playing a sound synonymous with artists long dead before most of us were even born, The Mavyns sound quite fresh in the Indian context, albeit a little boring at times.
The band has a classic rock ‘n’ roll sound straight from the ‘60s, and they make no bones about it. There’s obviously a major emphasis on songwriting and allowing strong vocal melodies and complementing guitars and keys to dictate tracks. That’s not to dismiss the jam element on this record either, as instrumental sections meander around like hippies at whim, with nostalgic guitar solos flying around, before seamlessly returning to the locus of the songs – the vocal hooks. ‘Dawn’ is another dynamic, hook-filled track, and ‘Echoes’, again with its lazy singing and driving rhythms, strikes a pretty little chord in my head, with an involved instrumental section to close out the song.
However, one massive problem, at least for listeners who may not be fully in tune with The Mavyns’ underlying bluesy, ‘60s analogue electric philosophy, is the length of From The Tree of No Ledge. It’s far too long (well over an hour), and tends to get a little grating at times due to sheer overindulgence. But eventually, while I may not always listen to this album religiously, it’s a great relic to hold on to for those days when you need something different from what’s on the TV.