Album Review: Manelik – F.L.Y.

Album artwork for F.L.Y. from Manelik

A rather pleasing new album dropped in April as Manelik, an alternative rock band from Geneva, Switzerland, released their debut EP F.L.Y. an excellent collection of songs that bridges 80’s synth pop and 90’s alternative rock into a fresh sounds for 2020.

Manelik formed in late 2019 and gets its name from founding and primary band member Manelik Sfez who uses a variety of session musicians to get his creation recorded. Sfez, the primary song writer and bass guitarist, writes and records most of the music alone in his studio, playing all instruments then puts together the guests for the vocals, backing vocals, guitars, bass, and piano to help fill out the sound as well as perform during live shows.  Lead singer Marcello Vieira contributes the lofty vocals.

Though just six songs long, F.L.Y. certainly works as a full-length album coming in at 30 minutes. Yes, shorter than many other regular length studio albums but hardly a quick listen as most of the songs register more than four minutes including the final cut “Let It Rain,” the single release, which lasts more than seven minutes. So, a full album? Sure why not! But as it stands F.L.Y. introduces the world to Manelik as the band’s debut EP.

Manelik F.L.Y. Album Review

F.L.Y. offers an a broad range of material opening with the title track that immediately brought to mind the sounds of synth-pop icon Jan Hammer while Vieira brings soaring vocals enveloping Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode. It’s a haunting, almost dark track with subtle melodies and a refreshing guitar solo Sfez lays down that builds on the song’s strengths.

“Be As You Are” lightens the mood a bit with a fun pop rhythm Pet Shop Boys would certainly be proud to own. Again, Manelik takes advantage of Vieira’s vocal work interspersed with a bit of spoken word. Love the implementation of the horn section which brings a total different element to the song especially on the darker heels of the prior track.

The band nails down a great jam midway through the catchy “Stars” giving drums, keys and guitar each their respective due. “Twisted Life” could be  Depeche Mode song but it takes on a different life of its own  with an interesting keyboard section that embraces on almost Caribbean influence before closing with background vocalist Ivy Marie harmonizing which offers a good introduction to the next song because…

Marie takes over the mic for “Insomnia” adding wonderful intonation and sounds like a successor to Sade but with a more upbeat pop sound. Finally, F.L.Y. closes with “Let It Rain” the longest track that starts off slow and builds with Vieira again carrying soaring vocals that drop pretty hard and heavy after a minute or so.

An achingly emotional song, “Let It Rain” ends the ballad hook midway for some hard rock elements coming from a stinging Sed Bandini guitar solo before gripping the pain again and closing with some sad, meandering synth and a dying piano.  “Let It Rain” makes sense as the band’s first single as it embodies Manelik the most of the six tracks but – even more importantly – introduces them as a new band on the scene deserving of your attention.

Manelik has a great feel for melody and crafts their songs with thought and precision. If F.L.Y. represents what’s to come from the band then expect a surge in popularity which seems to have already started as Manelik recently ranked #1 on ReverbNation for the alternative rock category. Manelik plans a follow up full-length album expected for release in 2021.

However, Manelik, i.e. Sfez, needs to figure out a potential issue with using a revolving lineup as fans tend to gravitate towards consistency and eventually identify with the individual players and emotionally attach themselves to group projects.

Until then, Sfez is the face and brand of Manelik. So far, so good.

Grade: A-

Manelik F.L.Y. Track List:

1. F.L.Y.
2. Be As You Are
3. Twisted Life
4. Stars
5. Insomnia
6. Let the Rain