They say variety is the spice of life. Whether or not the Haligonian quartet Monomyth successfully utilizes that worn-down anachronism may be up for debate. But six minutes into their debut LP, Saturnalia Regalia!, it becomes apparent that this psych-pop band has certainly committed to their own uniquely dilapidated wheelhouse scheme. From the harmonious swings of the Monkees to the synchronistic guitars of Television to the explosive fuzz of a variety of short-lived nineties bands, Monomyth has clearly mastered the art of experimentation, albeit within a confine of eight songs that are equally distinguishable as they are enjoyable.
Consisting of guitarists Josh Salter and Seamus Dalton, bassist Graeme Stewart, and drummer Matt Peters, the band’s democratic structure allows for rotating singing and songwriting duties that make for a fruitful situation where everyone has the opportunity to be heard. From the lithe drumwork on Someone Else to the hallucinatory guitar twists on Pac Ambition, it’s relatively challenging to listen to this album without becoming lost in a fit of deep concentration directed towards a particular member’s instrumentation.
Take the track Medicine Man, which deceptively opens with explosive feedback and then immediately melts into a swing of harmonious loops. Within minutes, it makes a rash left turn into strictly instrumental territory, almost becoming a different song entirely. By the end of the five-minute centerpiece, you’re right back where you started, with the grating guitars serving as a reminder of the band’s ability to effectively craft and congeal select genres into their own presentable fashion.
After roughly twenty two minutes of some intermittently enjoyable inconsistencies comes Patsy, the LP’s soothing standout. Sounding like the slow-dance portion of a sixties space prom you never attended, it’s the most immediately likable track of the LP, as it finds the band performing with some unexpected consistency. By slowly building up without ever veering off course, Patsy is an example of what Monomyth would sound like if they weren’t Monomyth and instead the type of band that sticks to one particular sound for no reason other than that they have mastered said sound—which is often a good idea for a debut.
According to lead singer Salter, “It’s important to make pop music that’s a little fucked up, because otherwise it’s just pop music.” And while any anti-establishment attitude runs the risk of being so anti that it comes off as trying too hard, it should be noted that Monomyth’s music is always striving, but never exerting itself to any extreme point. It may sound a bit disorganized, perhaps even half-hazard at times, but a quick listen through all of their unpredictable twists and occasionally unlistenable turns makes it clear that Monomyth has a plan going forward.