Singer-songwriter Adam Melchor was supposed to put out an EP on September 22nd, but after supposedly “revisiting the track list,” the project ended up being fully scrapped. Although he kept the title, FRUITLAND, which refers to the street he currently lives on, a little over a week before the release date he announced that he would be putting out a completely new thing. As he shared on his Instagram, he decided to finish up some other songs he had been working on more recently while road tripping from New Jersey to LA, a handful of tracks that apparently reminded him of the joy of making music he loves.
On a series of notes app screenshots titled “a note on Fruitland,” Adam even seems to admit that he’s not super proud of his previous projects, which honestly made me a little sad. He started by saying that the last few years have been incredibly confusing for him as an artist and as a person, something that I think is even more common than we think, especially because of the universal life-changing event that was the pandemic. And then he confesses that he found himself “making music for any reason other than because I loved to do it.”
These candid revelations kind of broke my heart since last year he put out Here Goes Nothing!, an album that I at least thought was beautiful, and just a year before that he released Melchor Lullaby Hotline Vol. 1, his debut LP. Although I think we can all be happy and relieved that he’s finally letting go of the external pressures and some imposter syndrome, it saddens me to know that he might’ve not enjoyed that whole initial phase of his artistry the way I thought and wish he had.
Even the phrase “here goes nothing!” now makes me think that he truly was just not convinced that what he was creating was good enough, and some of the lyrics in FRUITLAND seem to confirm the idea that he was just not doing well. This EP feels vulnerable and raw, in a way that makes it sound a little messy from the production to the songwriting, but that seems to be intentional once you learn more about the story behind it. The lead single “BIGTIMEGOODTIME” is supposed to give the listener the feeling of doom scrolling on TikTok, even including a sample of Adam himself going down his ‘For You’ page at the beginning. The song is a hotchpotch of thoughts, feelings, and sentences jumping around, just like the short-form app has slowly but surely conditioned us to perceive everything nowadays. Melchor brings up denser subjects, “Gender rights and anti-Semites, wonder why I just can’t sleep at night,” and also more trivial, day-to-day aspects that bring the song back to more familiar ground, “I’m overworked and underpaid, I get sent nudes but don’t get laid.” It feels casual and honest, the way the entirety of FRUITLAND does, and as Adam himself summed it up pretty well: “it’s happy, it’s sad, and it’s a little bit of everything in between”.
Staying on the topic of mental health and introspection on “SEROTONIN,” Melchor sings about being “hostages” in our own heads: “I’ve learned all the hardest ways, things are never as they were before.” It seems to me that—and probably because a lot of the artists that I listen to are in their 20’s—everyone’s been struggling with growing up and the passing of time. Especially in the music industry, everything has to happen so fast, and so many people are doing so well while being so young, that you can’t help but look back and get an uneasy feeling about how you’re not there anymore. It’s comforting to know that we all feel the same and have similar fears, and it’s funny to think how apparently none of us have ever had a unique experience in our lives. Who would’ve thought.
“ADELAIDE” sounds like and was written to be played inside of a giant venue. It was performed live during the Here Goes Nothing Tour, and Adam purposely wanted to make it sound like it was recorded live, because that’s kind of how it was created. It has little details that make it sound magical, the way his songs “Turnham Green” and “Light Year” do, but a lot stronger this time around. “PEACH” is the one that sounds the most similar to his older music, and also the most delicately crafted, which makes sense since Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers, Manchester Orchestra) co-wrote it. It appears to be about an all-consuming love, but if you read between the lines, it’s also about self-reflection and reminding yourself to be present.
My favorite song of this record, “RESOLUTION,” wasn’t even supposed to make the final cut. It starts softly and sounding a bit other-worldly, but halfway through, it absolutely explodes. The distorted guitars while he aguishly screams “this is the end now!” are freeing, and although come off a little abrasive after such a soft approach during the earlier four songs, it’s a great closing piece. The whole concept circles back to what the singer said about the EP, he’s finally letting go of the overwhelming weight of being an artist and “having” to make music, and now he’s just making it because it’s what he wants to do, and what he needs to do to deal with his emotions and experiences.
With all that said, I must say that after “Garment Bag” came out earlier this year, his first release since his 2022 album, I was definitely expecting something else. Something lighter and merrier, not necessarily better (although I do love that song a lot) but definitely different. However, knowing now that that might’ve been disingenuous and a source of discomfort for him, I think we should take FRUITLAND as what it is: a heartfelt letter, a peek into the depths of Adam’s heart and mind, and in a way, an exposed but old wound, that’s slowly healing on its own through the music, and that’s allowing the 27-year-old to become the artist he truly wants to be.
FRUITLAND is out now.