The beginning of the song is bleak, rough, austere: cascading drums, bass. “Sending current down the barbed wire/burning currency in bonfires….” and “Whether we ask for it or not/deliver us to suffer again and again.” Matt Flegel’s lyrics read like a manifesto and he declaims them like a manifesto. There aren’t many people who sing with the same stentorian ferociousness as Flegel; every time he sings “Whether we ask for it or not…” it sounds like he’s rallying people on a battlefield.
Antidote takes on a different shape midway through. The drums trip over themselves, the pattern shifts. Flegel sings (utters) with flat, dead resignation: “Information overdose/looking for antidotes/uneven ratios/under a microscope.” (and variations of that). You get fed up with what’s happening all around, the sickness of it, but then it overwhelms you, there’s nothing to be done, you’re left searching—in a futile and perfunctory way—for answers that don’t exist.
Long ago, monasteries were places of: work, prayer, meditation, bread-baking and eating, wine-and-beer making, lectio divina (a form of extreme reading, self-interviewing, and internal monologuing), endless grave-digging, and practical jokes. Novitiates were, of course, figures of fun for the more established brothers, often made to wash all the monks’ dirty robes by hand, handcraft the entire abbey’s supply of sauerkraut for the winter, or, on feast days, prepare the banquets for the rest of the abbey while being permitted to consume only a lightly warmed stew of water and old potato peels for themselves.
Kunzite’s “Monks” is creaky, lurching, segmented fun. A utilitarian jam. Mike Stroud, of Ratatat, is half of Kunzite, and you can hear that Ratatat sound—those guitars (which seem to shift between phases of being tightly wound, or whiny, or growling, or glowing, it’s an unmistakable sound regardless).
There’s probably not many more frustrating things about human experience than miscommunicating with the person you love. Saying too much, not saying enough, saying things at the wrong time, saying insanely stupid shit, etc.; there are manifold ways to fuck up. Would it be more or less enjoyable if we communicated our internal states directly via a different medium, like our skin? If we could change colors like a cuttlefish when we were alarmed, or lustful, or defensive, or content?
Anna Burch sings about this topic—miscommunication, not cuttlefish—on “Tea-Soaked Letter.” Love, missed connection, frustration. She has a bright and seamless voice, it’s so present, so ‘there’ on every track. She has an intimate presence across the whole album, like she’s sitting in a chair a few feet away while she plays these songs. Every song on this album is catchy, Burch is a melodically inventive songwriter and it’s all supremely enjoyable. It’s that intimacy and catchiness that reminds me of bands like the Aislers Set and the Softies. “Quit the Curse” is straight-up great.