Reviewing Molchat Doma’s third album release Monument is a writer’s delight. There’s plenty to say about the Belarusian three-piece band, because their sound is audacious, distinctly unique but confoundingly familiar.
It may be a sign of the times for the former Soviet state of Belarus, that Molchat Doma is one of its major up-and-coming artistic ventures. Rife with political protest and a viral pandemic, Monument may have just captured the nation’s mood. It’s a compilation of bleak anthems, reminiscent of outfits in 70’s and 80’s England. If front-man Egor Shtutko weren’t speaking another language, his low-pitched drone could easily be confused with Ian Curtis or Morrissey.
In this way, Molchat Doma have just crafted an homage to that era. Listening to Monument may bring you back to that time, but be warned: its tone is dark and grey. 2020 may already be gloomy enough for you.
Its opening track ‘Utonut’ begins with an ominous wail, as if an alarm is crying at you from a mineshaft far away. The sound only draws to mind the album cover: brutalist concrete spires of three hands wielding tools at each other, rising from a grey fog in front of a greyer horizon. People are a product of their past, and it seems a nation is no different. The track whose title is ‘Leningradskiy Blues’ is the album’s greatest example of a people still struggling to break free from its Soviet shackles. ‘Discoteque’ is one of its standout synth-heavy singles. As it progresses it feels as if it constantly one-ups itself without ever changing tempo. It eggs dancers on in a tantalising ‘Come on Eileen’-esque way, and its key change after the bridge is piercing but too addicting not to have on repeat.
Monument is itself a monument. It is a proud statement of character, and its drum-machines and minor-key synthesisers resemble a stubborn march through dark and murky times, spurred on only by the slightest glimmer of major melodies. It is a thematically concise project, one befitting of the times.
Monument is out now through Sacred Bones Records.
Article by Byron Gamble