Album Review: Year of the Wolf | Monoboi
***The following post was written fragmentary throughout this weekend, starting from Friday night, and brought together today, Sunday, 15th of May*** It’s Friday and our backpacks for the weekend’s trip are being prepared. For what is better than enjoying summer by the beach with good friends and some new music. About the latter, coming across Monoboi’s latest offering titled ‘Year of the Wolf’ was exactly what was needed so let’s get deeper into this restless piece of danceable melancholia.
The opening ‘Wolf’ lies somewhere between Daft Punk and Royksopp, with sturdy beats and old-school, sharp synths setting the tone for a heavily electronic ride among the stars. Speedy, melodic and dark, ‘Wolf’ feels like racing inside Mario Kart’s Electrodome course. Same futuristic aesthetics with a glimpse of the past, when Techno was rising back in the 90’s-00’s. However, the synths are literally giving off a video-game aroma to the track and gamers in their 30’s will get it. The atmosphere gets heavier as the following 'Guns' starts playing, with a low, muffled bass until the harmonizing vocals, together with Dilmen's rousing performance, turn this piece into a blazing burst of energy. A party of dubious safety!
The sexy, subterranean bass and decisive beat opening Monoboi’s collaboration with Flash Forward prepare the listener for some serious single material. ‘Heartbeat (Push)’ is the ultimate dancefloor anthem, an undeniable dance/pop hit consisted of all the right materials for a guaranteed success: super catchy chorus, powerful vocal delivery, intoxicating kick-snare. ‘Listen to your Heartbeat, Tell me that you love me, Steady as a drumbeat, You can hit that for me’. The production here is so thoughtful, glorious and destined for the mainstream European audience, it makes you wonder how it’s still hidden in the Spotify algorithms. The moment we enter this black hole titled ‘Panic Attack’, we are catapulted to the unknown at the speed of light, over hasty percussion and a vibrant spectrum of billions of colors. *Epileptic seizure warning*. Surviving this space-time travel rewards the listener by ending up in a whole new space, 'Budgie', where heavenly, sorrowful vocals reverberate together with enchanting ethers, like two bodies of light combining into a transcendental, galactic dance. And as the whirling bodies disappear, converting into energy, we are dragged down to earth with the industrial-touched transition ‘More Guns’ introducing the second half of Year of the Wolf.
‘Slowly and Surely’ is strictly synth-driven with break-beat style percussion and it seems there’s a slight change of direction, gently slipping away from pop and stepping onto more experimental grounds. The foxy ‘Smoke Trees’ is indeed breeding a number of opposite elements into an intriguing mix that begs to be replayed, discussed and investigated thoroughly. Here you’ll find electro-pop and hip hop with calculated drops of jazz and even reggae. But words could never do justice how it all works in great coordination, under a purely experimental prism of course. ‘Godspeed’ is a sister to ‘Panic Attack’ acting as another gate to fast-travel among planets and solar systems over hasty beats and ethereal, female vocals of some primeval deity of creation. The track is forever climaxing leading to an utterly euphoric experience that needs no lyrics to exist as a standalone track.
Little before the end of this journey we are treated with ‘Doomsday’, another pop jam, not for the mainstream audience but for the ones searching for the hidden gems. Abundant in its simplicity, ‘Doomsday’ reminded me of Moderat for the similar minimalistic approach, instrumental-wise. Now, the performance of Frau Winzig in ‘Singin’ In The Dark’ is unlike anything we’ve heard up to this point, proof of Monoboi’s ability to transform his music into whatever he feels like and still own it. ‘Singin’ In The Dark’ comes from the same melancholic place of ‘Budgie’ with Frau Winzig pouring her heart into a vessel of dark matter where the secrets of all creation are being kept together with the answers to our existentialism. The album is closing with ‘No More Guns’, thematically and purposefully chained to the previous ‘Guns’ and ‘More Guns’.
Monoboi knows how to put up a party both on earth and in outer space for, even though his expression comes from a deep introspection of his human hypostasis, it manages to bloom through electronic, futuristic means, almost sci-fi at times. As if this experiment wasn’t enough, the album embraces a variety of genres that blend in marvellously in their respective roles. YOTW is cohesive throughout its own transformations, never stagnant and with no cracks whatsoever other than the wormholes launching the listener from one point to another. A wondrous journey between worlds. This goes among the Sanctum’s best without second thought. Cheers!
Enjoy ‘Year of the Wolf’ here: