[sic] Magazine

Mandy – Universe

Bubble Wrap release another interesting – and in this case poignant – album, Universe by Mandy. Not as you might think a one woman band, but a pseudonym for Mel and Andy Fung – who I didn’t know of but certainly recognised Mel from Cardiff gigs over the last five years when I looked at her Youtube channel films – Outside My House, well worth a Google. Some Bubble Wrap is quite playfully left field. This is a short, mature work defined inevitably by the fact Mel was battling – and eventually succumbed to – breast cancer. It would appear impossible not to listen with that knowledge giving a slant of Pathos, but it is simply a good album given extra nuance by a sad circumstance. The running time – just under half an hour – doesn’t suggest so much a lack of ideas as a need to perfect what was created in a limited time-span. It would be lovely to think that the album would grow a following organically in the future, but whether it becomes a cult classic or a fitting marker for friends, family and a music scene Mel appears to have given much support to as well as creating within, it is a fine work that deserves to find a wider audience.

‘Angela’ starts it with an urgency that forms into a fat Super Furry Animals section to provide a very satisfying whole. ‘Can You Save Me’ asks questions that will not be answered easily and only to Mel. It wants to know if there is a way out, but without obvious ranker or expectation. A middle 8 sing-songs “easy come, easy go” with disarming acceptance and humour. ‘For Now’ is a honeyed pop classic, a truly wonderful track that is agonising knowing the circumstances, but stands without the knowledge as an aching classic, ending with a gift to those left behind. “Look Up and Remember” must be hard for friends to hear, but we all do it, when we talk to a lost loved one, although on the face of it this song is from one person just separated on the earthly plain.

The lovely pop of final track ‘Seeing In The Dark’ sees Mandy and Mel leave at least this part of the Universe behind, but equally leave forever a small part of their Universe with us.

Universe is out now on Bubble Wrap Collective

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