Reviews

The Psychotic Monks
Private Meaning First

(Fat Cat)

7/10

There’s something inherently romantic about escaping to a house deep in the French countryside, brushing up on your Proust, Camus and Sartre, and living life of gourmet indulgence. The Psychotic Monks might have done some of that, but if Private Meaning First was a postcard, it’d read “send help”.

Locking themselves away to record in rural France, this second album conveys the claustrophobic isolation they set out to capture. Crawling with moody production and dark, brooding mania, it’s an intense, absorbing listen as dynamics shift from chugging, choking riffs and tense, static noise to melodies that sound like they’re sung through walls by haunted choirs.

‘Closure’ is obnoxiously pleasing, its spiralling, heavy stabs of guitar veering on the guttural, ‘Emotional Disease’ flows with woozy anxiety that swims through slow-moving Xanax apparitions, and the gloomy drone of ‘A Self Claimed Regress’ builds and builds with a dead-eyed hypnosis. 

In the same way Girl Band hit an erratic, discordant stride on The Talkies, The Psychotic Monks do so here. It’s the equivalent of waking up to the darker corners of MTV2 at 2am; it’s the sinister “noise” of a broken CRT TV; it’s as if Black Rebel Motorcycle Club had listened to more Sonic Youth instead of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Even on ‘Every Sight’, the album’s closer, things seem to level out as the static gives way to something a little more sparse, but then you hear the inching menace creeping through the background. This soon gives way to a howling drone before everything detonates into post-rock destruction. At this point, you might not even realise you’re already ten minutes deep into a finale you never saw coming. As closers go, it’s the perfect album abstract, pulling all of the ominous energy that preceded into one final, howling blast. Good stuff.

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