‘Nervousited’ (the Urban Dictionary states) is the sensation of being nervous and excited at the same time; When you want to jump up and down and yell “Yay me!” but you also want to curl up in a teeny tiny ball and hide at the same time. That pretty much sums up exactly how I felt when I saw the new Thumpermonkey album had found it’s way to my inbox recently.
It’s always massively exciting to hear a new release from such an immensely talented group of musicians, one’s who seem to not just create amazing soundscapes with their pieces but pure art. But at the same time its horrendously scary when you write up albums in your spare time and appreciate that the one that’s just landed in your lap is not going to be a simple takeaway, easily consumed but instead a full banquet of flavours with accompanying wines to stretch the aural palette. Thumpermonkey just don’t write songs like anyone else, there’s rarely a repetition along ‘Make Me Young Etc.’s run time, when you start each of its seven tracks you are being taken on a journey without any clues to the twists and turns you will take along its length.
As with their last release, the fantastic EP ‘Electricity’ Thumpermonkey have crafted ‘Make Me Young, Etc’ around a concept which has clearly been building for a while. It seems that following the release of their ‘Sleep Furiously’ album back in 2012 singer Michael Woodman received an email from a listener who felt close enough to Michael due to connecting with his musical themes to warn him of his impending death due to the end of the world. Having ruminated on this for some time the band have composed an homage to the sender posing the question ‘If you knew tomorrow was the end of the world, would you be able to let go of your regrets and live differently for just one day?’
Opener and lead single ‘Veldt’ is a good indication for the listener of the direction the band have embarked upon this time around. A slow eerie introduction leading to a majestic and brooding mid section who’s jarring and crashing chords sow chaos over a funereal sounding orchestration…it’s really quite daunting and as heavy in emotion as it is in execution.
‘Cranefly’ follows, starting with a beautiful bouncing swing in its step and a sound reminiscent of Beardfish in their finer moments. As this is of course Thumpermonkey the tune soon veers off into unexpected directions, in this case discordant riffs and crashes which only cement this as one of my favourite tracks on the album!
There are moments of longing and sorry, wistfulness, defeat and acceptance each played out with beautiful and precise musicianship and constantly shifting melody lines to pull the listener through the shifting themes. Its grand and cinematic and glorious in its execution. Highlights for me are the whimsical ‘Deckchair For Your Ghost’ and the ever twisting beauty of the title track.
This is a massive and beautiful, completely unashamed slab of arty progressive rock, if you want a simple repetitive fix with your music then look elsewhere, ‘Make Me Young, Etc.’ is challenging, intelligent and thought-provoking. It’s not a record which is for everyone, which just proves the world is wrong…still, it’s ending soon!
FFO: Beardfish, Oceansize, Steven Wilson
Get your copy of ‘Make Me Young, Etc’ right here: https://thumpermonkey.bandcamp.com/album/make-me-young-etc