Business as (un)usual for Meljoann on Company Retreat

There wasn’t much of an incubation period needed for the millions of think-pieces and social media posts spewing into the pandemic narrative as it unfurls by the minute. One thing’s certain, though — capitalism is suspended, and it’s a year-zero moment for humans trying to concoct a new way of doing business.

You’re also probably sick of the gleeful, simplistic posts declaring that humans or capitalism is the real virus (congratulations, fucking galaxy brain), but sometimes you want someone to snigger at the system wryly, rather than bounce all over it like a mega-woke pneumatic drill.

Irish producer and singer Meljoann has been toying with the absurdity of capitalism and specifically business drone culture for years now, with sarcastic office-based concepts and performance art live shows and videos. Her last single ‘Assfuck the Boss’ came with a message that she had “installed an internalised capitalist deep in your gut, so you can wow at your next job interview”, and ‘Personal Assistant’ toyed with a Vaporwave/Windows 95 aesthetic while revelling in gleaming, gated snare Janet Jackson pop with a techno upgrade.

And while most of your favourite acts are up to their necks in the hand-heart social media promo game, Meljoann chooses instead to promote her fictional (I think) “hyper-capitalist self-help cult” called  ‘Mustics®’.

While ‘Assfuck the Boss’ got a little darker (think Gazelle Twin does R&B), her new single ‘Company Retreat’ thumps like Prince’s ‘Controversy’ with EBM drumrolls, and the ruggedness offset by vocal hooks in every line — “I. don’t. want. to goooooo!” is the standout, echoing every sane person’s anxiety-filled build-up to spending a weekend with a load of David Brents.

She says the video has “dystopian-femme social Darwinist vibes”, and has Meljoann in her regular Stop Making Sense oversized business suit, in side-eyed rivalry with a blonde alter-ego, with both of them caught in some contour make-up disaster. She adds that the song is “a surreal take on the “distorting influence of hyper-competitive capitalism on our relationships”. It’s a belter too — that ‘Controversy’ reference is no exaggeration.