Monday, February 25, 2008

Monade - Monstre Cosmic

(Too Pure; 2008)

Initial Grade: 81.8%


Why I'm Torn

I like to fancy myself as a big Stereolab fan. I'm far from a crazed, obsessed fanatic, but I own most of their albums, have my favorites, and listen to those particular albums frequently. So it was with great anticipation when the folks at Too Pure were kind enough to send me Monade's latest album, Cosmic Monstre. You see, Monade is Lætitia Sadier's (of Stereolab, uh, fame?) other project. What started in 2003 as a way to release her bedroom recordings has grown into a full band, one that is now three albums into their career. I put the album on my iTunes and listened to it immediately. My initial impression about two minutes into the album was, this sounds just like Stereolab. Then I got high.

Instantly, it was like a portal opened in my brain, and rather than listening to the songs on my computer, it was like the songs were downloaded into my head, playing through hidden speakers that lie somewhere inside my brain. Over the course of the next 50 minutes I let Monade take me on a cosmic journey, and listened as they played some of the most space-age sounding lounge/jazz music I've ever heard. It was pretty awesome, to say the least.

So why am I torn? Well, I'm not really torn about how I feel about it; I love it. What I was unsure of was whether or not this album was really that good, or was I just so overjoyed to hear something as close to a great Stereolab album as this that I became a little overzealous?
In an early draft of this review I even went as far as to state something to the effect of, "Monstre Cosmic is probably the closest we'll ever come to hearing a classic Stereolab album," and in some aspects I still feel this is true. I mean, who knows what Stereolab's up to these days, and even if they did release a new record, which Stereolab would show up? The one that made classic records like Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops, or the one that's responsible for releasing their most recent albums, some of the most hit-and-miss works in the Stereolab canon. Because I wanted this review to be fair and balanced, I put off writing it for several weeks so I could let it sink in, and form a natural, unbiased opinion. I'm glad I did.

Repeated listens have revealed subtle differences - a richer guitar tone, extremely audible bass, a consistent flow throughout the album, and a tendency to push each song's boundaries, to name a few - that reveal more of a separation between Monade and Stereolab than I once thought. Sure, the genes are similar, but identical twins they are not. As a result, I no longer feel like I'm listening to the great Stereolab album that never was, I feel like I'm in love Monade's third album. I also feel like I can safely say, without any hint of overzealousness, that Monstre Cosmic is the first great record I've heard this year (or second, I fancy that new Beach House album quite a bit too, but you'll have a chance to read more about that soon enough).

Final Verdict: 87.4%
Obviously, I'm no longer torn. My early draft, now revised, would read, "Monstre Cosmic is not the closest we'll ever come to hearing a classic Stereolab album, rather it is Monade's first big step in writing their own entry into rock's history books." [Gold Sounds]


Hackworth Artifex said...

That's awesome! Were you listening on headphone? I wonder if they were doing some binaural stuff.

Girlfriend said...

I WANT TO EAT THAT BUNNY. I smell some good stew a brewin'.