Happy Friday, cats. It’s funny – here I am, right on the cusp of my 24th birthday, and I was thinking to myself that I wasn’t going to get anything nice. Turns out the universe proved me wrong once again, because Monomer just dropped his new album ‘Labyrinth,’ and boy howdy, this album is, as the kids say, “most ill.” Let’s dive right in, shall we?
I distinctly recall back in April last year during the ‘Quite Operational’ launch party on Arecibo Radio that I said that listening to Monomer was like “rolling around in a vat of distilled 80’s.” As it turns out, that continues to be true. While still sounding recognizably like himself, Gavin has gone out of his way to make this album stand apart – which, given his mission statement over on the Bandcamp page, that makes sense. He says: “My main goal after ‘Quite Operational’ was to create an album where each song had a unique character, not only in the composition but also in the arrangement, production and mixing. This led to a lot of new territory for me, which was both exciting and terrifying, but I’m extremely happy with the end result and can’t wait to share it.”
I feel a track-by-track analysis would diminish the overall experience of this album, so I’m gonna let you absorb it on your own instead. What I will say, though, is that the new auditory maneuvers Monomer pulls in ‘Labyrinth’ are something to be feared and respected. While still maintaining the signature “splashy drums, punchy bass and heavy synth” sound which is so evocative of the 80’s, this album features all sorts of new additions, like the use of vocal samples and some pretty stellar drops leading to something evocative of a slower, funkier hardstyle. Like his last album, Monomer seamlessly blends in the chippy sounds you might expect with more traditional synth and drum sounds, as well as the occasional guitar riff snuck in the background – a sound palate which is at once familiar and unique.
As far as what track shines above the rest, I really can’t say. Eponymous tracks are usually the best on any album, and ‘Labyrinth’ does not fail to impress. However, every song evokes something different – some go for the aforementioned hardstyle feel, some feel like they could have been ripped right out of Tron Legacy’s soundtrack (y’know, that one by Daft Punk – so yes, I am unashamedly putting Monomer on the same level as Daft Punk in terms of quality). Still others feel like the 80’s power ballads of the same type that The Protomen went to emulate in ‘Act II: The Father of Death.’ All in all, I’d say Monomer definitely accomplished the goals he set out with for this album and then some. If you love Monomer, you’re going to love this album. If you don’t love Monomer, you might still love this album, but if not… that’s just, like, your opinion, man. I can abide your poorly chosen opinion, dude.