MONSTER CAT’s sophomore release sees the band exploring new possibilities within their signature spectre-gaze folk sound. Fans of their debut EP, Mannequins, are likely to find that the band has taken a rather giant leap from the sounds they had fallen in love with on that debut.
The new album is, in several ways, startlingly vibrant for a band that won fans over with melancholic strains in tracks such as ‘Underwater’ and ‘The Courier’. Lyrically however, the band continues to lead the listener on a dignified, sombre odyssey – except this time they’re traversing across slightly different soundscapes.
Lead single ‘Take Me to Love’ is an upbeat, celebratory rock number with a cheekily groovy bassline. Brief, anthemic whoahs towards the song’s end come across as rock festival friendly. However, the track as a whole won’t exactly be easy for drunken festival reveller’s to catch on and sing-along to – for the band has clearly refrained from dumbing down the musical formula too much.
In this vein, ‘Tower’ is another track that deserves special mention. The track is an inventive brew that consists of tribalistic chants, brass elements and with a healthy dose of MONSTER CAT’s quintessential quirkiness. Other than proving that they are not the type of band to shy away from inventive concoctions, ‘Tower’ is also representative of a band that has been steadily taking their ambitions further since their inception.
While The Violet Hour features a number of dynamic tracks, MONSTER CAT truly shines on mellow tracks where the folk element is more pronounced – such as ‘Pockets (All I Have)’ and ‘Circling’. The band’s signature vocal harmonies seem to go well with such acoustically driven tracks, and the result is a comfortable sense of disquiet that few other acts could pull off.
The band continues to embrace this sense in ‘Knife Through Water’ – a metaphorical track that is styled like an reinvented English folk song. The track is suitably dark, but it is warm and inviting at the same time; due to a catchy vocal melody as well as the addition of majestic strings. Just as the track hits its climax however, this emotive masterpiece aptly fades out and makes way for closing track, ‘Behind’.
An apt album closer, ‘Behind’ breathes new life into The Violet Hour. Interestingly, vocals on this track don’t quite function as the prime melody driver but instead successfully function as yet another instrument (Thom Yorke would be proud). This is especially clear as the track culminates into a dazzling splendour, where lyrical content takes a backseat and instrumental bravado takes centre stage.
Despite the utter brilliance of ‘Behind’, it also highlighted the fact that The Violet Hour as a whole lacked cohesion and fluidity. There are times when the music gets particularly interesting, but these moments are scattered throughout the 13 track album. The Violet Hour will definitely impress some with its technical reinvention, but it is an album that requires multiple listens in order to fully appreciate its creative aesthetic. MONSTER CAT aren’t quite in their element yet – but they come pretty close.
It’ll be interesting to see how (or if) MONSTER CAT indulges in their inner spirit animals and continue to shapeshift in their next release. For now, The Violet Hour is one heck of release that tantalises and puts the band out as a force to be reckoned with.
01. Take Me To Love
04. Pockets (All That I Have)
10. Eat You Up
12. Knife Through Water
The Violet Hour is now available for purchase via MONSTER CAT’s Bandcamp. It is also available via iTunes and Spotify.