Reviewing Vyva Melinkolya’s “Unbecoming”

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05 January, 2024

KCSB’s Fall ’23 Assistant Music Director, Amber Cooper, reviews Vyva Melinkolya’s second album Unbecoming. Read on to learn more!

Words by Amber Cooper

Vyva Melinkolya’s Unbecoming feels like it slowly sucks the air out of your lungs; it carries a lot of weight, and its crawling pace feels like a sinkhole, drawing you into the noise. Vyva Melinkolya is the music of Angel Diaz, a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter based in Louisville, Kentucky. Diaz has been releasing music as Vyva Melinkolya for some time now—listeners can find the 2017 album Ms. Menthol on Bandcamp— however, according to Diaz, Unbecoming marks the second proper Vyva Melinkolya solo album. 

Photo: Bandcamp – “Unbecoming” by Vyva MelinkolyaProduced by Chyype Crosby, the album finds its home in slowcore and draws influence from shoegaze and dream pop, with a dark and trodding intensity resembling doom metal. Expansive and melancholic, this record has an impressively cohesive, singular sound.

A warbly, fuzzy guitar riff marks the beginning of the album in “Song About Staying,” a reference to Seattle slowcore band Carrisa’s Wierd and their 2002 album Songs about Leaving. Diaz’s voice is stunning. Warm and intimate, it has a numbing, distant quality, thoroughly cradled in an ample dose of reverb. The song has just two verses, but every line feels weighted as Diaz works through the intense loneliness of leaving an abusive partner: “Leaving isn’t easy/staying’s twice the harm.” Atmospheric and somehow nostalgic, the song appropriately holds dusty, long-lost memories of an upbeat Ethel Cain song (Hayden Silas Anhedönia and Diaz are friends and collaborators). 

 One of the album’s standouts is “Stars Don’t Fall,” a reference to Duster’s “Stars Will Fall.” Dreamy and cinematic, this song feels like a spiritual awakening. Fuzzed-out guitars drive a tension-filled progression that slams you back to Earth when it lands on the home chord. Diaz’s breathy melodies hold you close as she is “wasting every wish on you.” The track ends with a simply stunning piano outro featuring Deedee, Ethel Cain’s sister, recalling a lucid nightmare featuring an animal that “was supposed to look like my childhood dog, but it definitely wasn’t and it was so close to my fucking face it literally was like looking into my soul.” Deedee’s casual delivery, contrasting with Diaz’s heavenly, choir-like harmonies, sends shivers down your spine.

 The beautiful ambience of “Stars Don’t Fall” continues to ring out as “Doomer GF Song” enters with a riff that feels like unrelenting waves of, well, doom. Repetitive and plodding, the track is the musical manifestation of Diaz’s dispassionate words: “it’s not so bad/the magic’s gone.” Midwife, a recent collaborator with Diaz in their joint album Orbweaving, is a perfect addition to the ongoing melancholic gloom.

Shoegazey, noisy, and heavy, “Bruise” is one of the most vulnerable tracks on the record. Diaz achingly depicts the impact violence in a relationship had on her: “bruise becomes the blush/I’m afraid of touch/did I make it up?” A mountain of guitar tones that blend together like a gauzy blur contrast beautifully with soaring vocals provided by Diaz and dream pop artist SRSQ. 

 Impossibly low, strummed bass chords hit right in the gut as the monumental “222” begins. Tension builds as a cinematic synth line and steel guitar layer with Diaz’s brooding vocals: “Moon is sharp like the edge of a knife.” At points, it feels like the tension will break into some release, but as Ethel Cain’s iconic background vocals blend into the chorus, the tension just keeps building. Diaz and Anhedönia’s vocals mesh together: “my legs in the water/I will not falter/the shape of a woman,” possibly a reference to their shared experience as trans women.

 The album ends with “Safe,” a song that initially feels like it might finally ease you back to Earth. However, its grating tones and spacey, screaming guitars float around your head and thread the album’s sense of unease through to the end. “In a cave, outer space/in a cave, outer space/in a cave, outer space, outer space,” Diaz sings as the album slowly decays, disintegrating into the ether.


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