Tom Odell – Monsters
London singer Tom Odell steps boldly into moody electro pop with his latest, deeply introspective release, Monsters.
This new record is something of a concept album, with tracks occasionally blending into each other, a few short ditties and interludes thrown in for narrative effect.
The album starts on a high with the simple yet compelling Numb, which evokes melancholic imagery – “I hold my hand over the flame, to see if I can feel the pain” – alongside well-arranged melodies.
This is followed by a short musical lament about the suffocating power of the media: “I watch the news and it watches me, and you gotta choose which lie to believe; sometimes I’m angry, but I keep my poise, it’s only noise”. Listeners find themselves inside Odell’s troubled head as the artist rocks from side to side in front of a glaring TV, hands over his ears.
This leads straight into Money, a hypnotic anti-capitalist chant. The vocalist criticises not just the bloated system, but the individuals who enable it in their endless search for more. It is hardly the most subtle approach to political commentary, but provides a welcome shift in mood to something a bit more cheeky and upbeat.
Despite the singer-songwriter’s tales of severe depression being the driving force behind this album, he also manages to prepare a few numbers that will be perfect for an audience singalong session, including Streets of Heaven, with its subdued verses and soaring choruses.
There are very few breaks from Odell’s distinctively mournful vocals on this 16-track creation. All the songs are relatively short and if the listener does not relate to the concepts and emotion which they embody, they may be tempted to skip through abrasive titles like Problems or the slow-moving By this Time Tomorrow. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a six-minute exception to this rule, a pleasant saunter through folky Beatles guitar lines and modern uplifting pop beats.
Elements of Irish folk music seep into his vocal lines in Tears that Never Dry, which is closely followed by the title track – another intensely personal tune straight from the artist’s head. This one is almost overbearing in its intensity and barren accompaniment.
Overall, Monsters provides a personal look inside Tom Odell’s soul, a valuable asset for die-hard fans. To the uninitiated, the singer’s overly serious political musings betray a comfortable upper-middle-class background: he writes with the best of intentions, but a lack of authenticity and humour.
Monsters is released on 9th July 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Tom Odell’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Money here: