Mydy Rabycad are a four piece group from Prague who describe themselves as an electroswing dance band: a good way to encapsulate their sound.
Nero Scartch on drums and keyboards is the mainstay of the band, co-writing the music for ten out of the eleven songs here, as well as writing the lyrics for three more while co-producing and helping in all the arrangements. Jan Drábek plays electric bass and also contributes “asshole vocals” while co-writing and arranging a number of songs here.
The music has great texture and is very colourful: a foundation of guitar, drums and bass with lots of piano and synths. There’s also a sax (Mikuláš Pejcha) and a horn section on five tracks and a string quartet on seven. The lead vocals are often double-tracked and the backing vocals too are multi-layered, adding to the richness of sound. The standout track is the opener ‘Don’t Play This Song’, whose lyrics are a put-down of a male pop star. Like most of the songs here it’s very danceable while the middle section manages to include a nice jazzy interlude, a snatch of Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’ and some Basement Jaxx vocalese. There’s also a sound like steel drums in there somewhere. Only occasionally are the background vocals incongruous and slightly irritating – the “bow-bow-ba-bows” in ‘Belly Button Nation’ – but perhaps this is an example of the aforementioned ‘asshole vocals’.
There are a lot of great jazz touches throughout: perhaps unsurprisingly given the Czech Republic’s long jazz tradition. I particularly liked the upright bass of Josef Feco and some clever use of samples – Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington with the Quincy Jones Orchestra – the last one being a loose re-write of Louis Jordan’s classic ‘Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?’
You might expect these songs to be in Czech – in fact they’re in English with a bit of American twang here and there from Žofie Dařbujánová, who also wrote some of the album’s lyrics. There’s something of a recurrent theme of a woman getting herself back on her feet after being treated badly e.g. ‘I’m not your possession’, ‘I’m not locked in your cage’ and ‘I’m not here to be your puppy’. The only lyric written completely by Nero, ‘Ready to Stay’, is to me the most optimistic while ‘Good Times’ is the most obscure of the lot – mentions of a ‘hungry nose’, ‘weed’ and ‘taking me higher’, clearly relating to drug culture and, appropriately enough, with an addictive hook to it. Unlike many catchy, danceable songs the lyrics on these tracks are for grown-ups.
I’d never heard of Mydy Rabycad before , but I like this album – its tunes are catchy and the music and vocals rich. The band aren’t coming to London on their forthcoming tour but can be caught at the Henley-on-Thames Festival on July 10th.