It’s been seven years since Tom and Ed Russell slipped out of their individual production monikers – Tom as the techno-driven Truss, Ed as breakbeat wizard Tessela – to join forces as Overmono, and powered by an absolutely stellar track record, the build-up to their debut album has, at times, felt like more of a procession. With good reason, too. A slew of brilliant EPs, an outstanding Radio 1 Essential Mix, and an impressive Fabric Presents compilation made 2021 a significant year, setting the foundation for the percussive minimalism, catchy vocal garage hooks and two-step energy that characterises much of Good Lies.
It’s a tight album, one that’s a world away from the intensity and specialised sounds of their respective solo work, and also avoids being a compilation victory tour of EP highlights. There’s an unerringly functional balance, a precision in the progression, a clear sense of utility in the Russell brothers’ production that could easily feel cold and telegraphed, but instead hits on the same kind of emotion and reach-for-the-lasers nostalgia that Bicep have done so effortlessly over a similar time period, both acts finding a groove in a sad kind of dance music without the tears at different ends of the spectrum.
‘Arla Fearn’ and ‘Skulled’ play in brooding Burial territory, the low electronic pulse and Tirzah’s chopped vocal on ‘Is U’ hit with a clinical, minimal longing, and it’s a similar feeling on ‘Cold Blooded’ as St. Panther’s bodiless voice drifts across a trappier, melancholic Monmouth version of Drake’s ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’.
It adds to the sense that Overmono don’t really do calling cards, more of a blueprint that’s consistently executed flawlessly. Like a chef working with a few key ingredients and letting them speak for themselves: no microgreens, no dry ice drama, no high concept abstraction.
That’s not saying Good Lies is too structured or joyless, just that it very rarely strays. Title track ‘Good Lies’ provides a busy, sweet burst of brightness, the kick drum punch and dead space minimalism of ‘So U Kno’ still absolutely bangs, two years on, like an after-hours ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, and the swimming vocals and downtempo swirl of ‘Calon’ all stand out for the right reasons.
Overmono’s confidence in their fidelity makes for a debut with few surprises but ensures expectations are meticulously met, and Good Lies is a measured, polished distillation of everything they’ve ever promised.
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