Uniting heavy riffs and delicate vocals can be a complicated task if you’re not sure what kind of aesthetical concept you want to achieve with a song or even an entire album, but in Monsoon’s Ghost Party, the Athens, GA-based alternative rock outfit manages to make it sound all too easy. In songs like the stirring opening track “Walking Legs” and Ghost Party’s rousing title cut, Monsoon demonstrates a desire to utilize juxtaposition in a way that a lot of their contemporaries are too intimidated to experiment with; starting with the verses and then examining the depth of the mix itself, it seems like this band is looking to extend one element of expression unto another as much as possible here. Through duality, this is a record that finds cohesion most LPs only dream of possessing.
“Nightshop,” the segue piece “Dark Colossus,” and smashing lead single “Dont Move” exhibit a contrast that is indicative of a general theme in Ghost Party, but I wouldn’t say the entire narrative in this album centers on conflict. On the contrary, between the textural expressiveness of the bass tones in songs like “Third Voice” and the atmospheric contribution of the rhythm in “O Brother” or “Submission,” we’re treated to some surprisingly strong chemistry here frequently when we are least expecting to find it. It might be that Monsoon wants to prove they can turn opposites into attractors on the spot, but more likely it’s that they find it easier to convey powerful emotion through the absence of conventionality, which is another venture many of their rivals just aren’t comfortable embracing.
Even atonal accents, like those we find in the noisy “Dont Move,” are made into melodic faceting in Ghost Party, and I don’t know that you can get through this record without thinking of some element of the first wave shoegaze movement. This isn’t to suggest that the droning undercurrents of “Red Blood” or “Beetlebee” don’t have as much in common with the stonier side of contemporary alternative music and neo-psychedelia, but to acknowledge how much Monsoon owe to the old school in classic punk, especially when it comes to measuring their appreciation of volume. That alone is a key component of the music in this tracklist, and how it was always meant to be enjoyed.
Ghost Party is a really provocative listen, and I think that with each session its complete collection of songs is afforded it reveals to us a deeper layer of emotionality on the part of Monsoon definitely worth getting to know. There’s a lot of fuzz and freewheeling energy to be discovered here, but aside from the muscularity of the music, there’s scarcely a moment where the poetic end of this record isn’t as immersive as it is complimentary of the musical backdrop it’s been given. Monsoon is a new act on my radar, but I’ve got a feeling that if this is what they’re going to be recording on the regular from here forward, the impact they have will only become greater.
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