Montauk – Montauk

 Montauk – Montauk

Montauk – Montauk – Album Review

Been very excited to talk you all about this record.  You’ll have to take my word on a lot of this for now – the new self-titled album by Montauk isn’t out until November 23rd – but, you’ll also be able to confirm a bit of what I’m saying here when the debut single officially drops on October 12th just around the corner.  Essentially, there’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to the music of Montauk, or being in Montauk for that matter, when it comes to these next couple months…and hopefully long beyond that.

They had me at the concept alone truthfully.  As far as what I’ve read & researched online, this first record from Montauk is at least somewhat based on Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.  For a guy like me, that tells me a lot about what I’m expecting to hear before ever pushing play; you can’t get to a place where that movie would serve as an inspiration without an intense understanding of the power of emotions, life, love, and the connection that exists between them all through our shared relationships & experiences here on Earth.  Music aside for a moment, it’s one of the best movies that’s ever been made – Charlie Kaufman is literally my favorite writer when it comes to movies and as far as I’m concerned, everything he’s written that’s been made into a movie has been pure gold.  The depth of characters is extraordinary…the real emotions that come to the surface are a bold reflection of what many of us think yet very rarely have the courage to admit or acknowledge.  Adaptation for instance, of all things – a movie with Nicolas Cage changed the course of my entire existence – again, written by Kaufman, it showed me that no matter what comes your way, you can somehow make it work; even writing a movie about a book about flowers.  Anyhow…this ain’t a movie review…I’m just saying, Kaufman is brilliant, the director of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry is a visionary, and the entire cast of characters onscreen were absolutely amazing, with incredible stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet leading the way in two of their career highlight performances.  The unspoken truth that surrounds the film just by being made as well as it was, is that even in moments of absolute heartbreak, things can still come together in remarkably perfect and stunning ways.  What you’ll learn about this record from Montauk is that singer/songwriter Drew Richardson fully understands how to tap right into a very deep well of emotion, just as the movie that inspired this album did, and as a result, we’ve got some real art at work that revels in a range of intense thoughts, feelings, & expressions that head straight for the heart & soul.

You might have heard the lead-single “Take Him To Montauk” on the SBS Podcast earlier this morning – we’re celebrating all-things-Montauk here at the homepage today!  I really dig projects like these…half of the musicians on this record were in the same room – and the other half arrived via the internet.  You’ve got Tom Jobling (Producer/Guitar), Rebecca Chambers (Vocals), Sam West (Drums) all somewhere over there close to Drew in the UK, whereas you’ll also hear from Jon Wright (Guitar) and Max Saidi (Drums) from somewhere else altogether.  Together, they all help assist in bringing this vision of Montauk to life.

The opening guitars of “Doom Dust” are immediately inviting, ringing out beautifully into the atmosphere as the drums join in and the song takes off.  Drew comes out sounding bold and full of passionate tone that sounds absolutely fantastic – the man can SING and he certainly makes that known instantly, surging into the giant hooks this first cut has to offer.  Built in a Pop/Rock style that’s structured to seriously deliver – you gotta love a first impression like this where you can easily identify the strengths in the songwriting so clearly.  The balance between the verse & chorus is perfection – you’ll get plenty of reasons to enjoy both of the song’s main parts from the musicianship to the vocals, but you’ll certainly notice that there are no weak points to be found either.  The guitar solo is freakin’ immaculate…the energy that fills “Doom Dust” is magnificently uplifting, capitalizing on the strengths of Drew and Rebecca singing together in the chorus and taking the entire song up to that next level it truly deserved.  You can hear the magic in Montauk, right away…this is a wonderfully enticing opening tune.

Arguably, you could say that “Fall In Love” also raises the stakes right away.  This whole song is pretty much built on lighters-up moments and massive sing-along potential – the melody of this second cut is exquisite.  Drew nails the emotion required to suit the energy & meaning in his words – and man does he display some immediate highlights on this track!  Put it to you this way…I was more than happy with what I had heard throughout the first three & a half-minutes of this tune, and yet somehow, Montauk found a way to make something great even greater by the time this song is over.  Love the sound of the guitars that gently start out “Fall In Love” – but above all things, you really notice how powerful the vocals are with the way this song begins; Drew’s incredibly powerful on his own, even more-so with Rebecca backing him up…words can’t even express how well they complement each other vocally.  It really comes down to killer writing and stunning execution here on “Fall In Love” though…don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you could ask anything more of any player on this song…but facts are facts, the writing stands out just as much on this tune – it’s audible perfection and a single-worthy cut for sure.  The ending of this song is spectacular…I kind of consider it to start with more than a minute to go still, but right around the three-minute mark where that incredible distance is added to the backing vocals in the call & answer style transition made in the finale of “Fall In Love” – it’s just brilliant.  Purely brilliant.

Beautiful guitars on “Hanging Baskets” – and such an insightful pairing with the entire vibe of the idea.  Loved the piano accenting the melody, loved the vocals in the verse and thought the chorus was another jaw-dropping moment in time.  It’s right around here at track three on the Montauk album that you kinda gotta realize just how addicting this music really is; it’s artistic, it’s well written, it’s clearly inspired, and the attention to detail leaves you wanting for nothing more than what you hear.  “Hanging Baskets” is gorgeously sweet, nostalgic, and genuine…Montauk wears this more delicate style of sound like it’s a perfect fit; you won’t find the massive hooks that you’ll find on “Doom Dust” or “Fall In Love” – but you will find every bit as much of a reason to listen & captivatingly charming sentiment throughout.  For anyone that’s seen the movie and can recall any of the scenes & pain that came along with the emotional ride that is Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, a moment as seemingly innocent as “Hanging Basket” can be powerful enough to reduce you to a puddle of tears for the beauty it contains.  Every time Drew sang ‘Just be here with me’ – the song’s ultimate hook – it’s so wonderfully heartbreaking and contains that perfect mix of emotion in the expression.  In my opinion…again, helps if you’ve seen the movie once or twice…but…those tears would be happy tears at the end of the day; hard ones to go through nonetheless, but teardrops that mean something special and represent the good times.  There’s just no two ways about it all though – “Hanging Baskets” is a gorgeous song, full-stop.

LISTEN to the HOOKS will ya?  I tell ya…when Montauk pours it on, you can’t resist what comes out.  “Welcome To You” is incredibly accessible – honestly even with “Hanging Baskets” being more of a subtle tune, I still think there’s single potential there too – it’s EVERYWHERE on this album.  “Welcome To You” dives right back into that massive stadium-sized sing-along sound, really amazing textures are added into this song as well from piano to a full-on brass section…I think an electric violin in the mix there too?  Whatever the list of ingredients contains, I can tell you firsthand it all adds up to an incredible listening experience – you can feel “Welcome To You” flow right into your soul like it belonged there the whole time…like this song has been a part of you all along somehow.  Drew’s focused in on one of the most pivotal plot points of the movie & emotions contained within, finding another incredible way to interpret that inspiration into the music of Montauk.  The chorus of this song and the instrumentation really steal the show here…great ideas on the mix of the vocals as well when it comes to the verses and backing layers…everything comes together as well as you could hope for here – and I guarantee that people will connect to this song.  Montauk in general when it comes right down to it – but definitely “Welcome To You” – this is a vibe that will add to your LIFE EXPERIENCE in indescribably positive ways you can’t afford NOT to enjoy.

So much character and personality in this music that you can hear it at every turn – listen to the rhythm and groove goin’ on in “Heart Attack” for example.  The added layer of swagger & cool in this cut is impossible to ignore…another killer cut for instrumentation as well, but a serious highlight for the amount of genuine hook & pull this song has.  There’s a bit of a throwback element to the sound of this particular tune – but still not unlike something you might hear from say like, Ben Folds today perhaps…funkier here on “Heart Attack,” no doubt about that, but it’s still got that songwritery-aspect you can really hear, set in a vibe that embraces the old & new as one.  It’s the art of the craft in full inspiration…as short as it is, “Heart Attack” is about as tight as a song can be played, leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of its flawless sound.  It’s fun on the surface, more complex underneath when it comes to the lyrics; it’s brilliantly structured vocally with the backing vocals from Rebecca punching the emphasis perfectly into the right moments, and the hooks are once again highly memorable.  Dig the way Drew sings this one…he’s putting in a more artistic approach here and it definitely suits the song.

Things get much more serious with “Osidius (Just A Girl)” and it’s absolutely something you’ll notice right away.  Of all songs on this record, this tune doesn’t sit still very long – Montauk is working with a couple song’s worth of ideas on this one track.  Pick it apart and you’d find parts that other bands out there would milk into a full song of their own…here on “Osidius (Just A Girl),” Montauk takes you on quite a dramatic & theatrical experience…cinematic sonics, if you will.  The opening of this song is like a soliloquy or aside to the audience…chilling and haunting with Drew’s vocals and lyrics until it eventually bursts open into crunchy guitars and a more Rock-inclined sound…for a bit.  When it comes to the chorus, Montauk flips the script yet again and takes this song into more Pop-inspired territory, then adds in some 80’s-esque guitar tones to a fierce solo before surging back into the blissful melody of the main hooks.  So you see what I’m saying here…but to listen to it is a whole other thing; “Osidius (Just A Girl)” is a fantastic example of how well Montauk can incorporate several ideas & styles into one.  It’s also one of the more expressive tunes on the album through its widespread range of sounds and another insightful match between how they sing this tune and each part that comes up along the way.

“Love For Sale” was the first moment I questioned a little…which you gotta admit, here at track seven on a record is pretty much an achievement for any back out there.  I still think it’s a good tune…I do think there are a couple of more dated elements to the particular sound this cut reaches for, but I don’t think Montauk is shying away from that either.  They own this song just as confidently as the rest, it’s played with just as much passion & remarkable skill…just maybe a bit of a slightly odd fit when compared with the rest of the songs that you’ve experienced on this self-titled record.  There’s no doubt that “Osidius (Just A Girl)” somewhat prepares your palette to latch onto this song…and really when it comes right down to it, again, I think the commitment & focus you can hear in the performance counts for quite a bit.  That’s what will get the people out there onboard with a track like this that’s arguably more involved, demanding, or weighty when it comes to listening to it…people will hear that the passion remains just as strong and that every bit of their A-game has gone into this as well.  Does it fit the record?  Thematically, for sure…sound-wise I wasn’t always as sure; that being said, I love how Drew sings the chorus of this cut and I also think that with Montauk being so new still, there are no rules or boundaries set as to what their sound is or isn’t at this point – everything is still wide open for this band as far as possibilities go for their direction in music…and I both suspect & hope they’ll keep it that way.

Dude should get an award for “Eternal Sunshine” – I love everything about this fearless tune.  Without question, this is one of the boldest moments on this entire record while also being one of the most innocent, humble, mild, & sweet sounds on the album.  Lyrically, this is another earth-shattering accomplishment…and to do this as a duet, was an extraordinary idea that is as good as it gets.  You feel this one from the perspective of the film’s main characters, which is really an aspect that’s brought straight to the surface by having both Drew and Rebecca singing lead parts on “Eternal Sunshine.”  I think the isolated & emotional beginning of this song is incredible – but EVERY time Drew heads into that chorus for the first time, I get SO MANY chills down my spine that I pretty much need to sit in a hot bath to recover and calm myself down.  I’m not gonna spend much time on the ‘I was totally right about Montauk’ thing in the whole opening with the insights into what being inspired by a movie like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind would be like – but “Eternal Sunshine” is exactly what I meant all along.  It’s right here, wrapped up in one song…a stunning example of the sheer depth of emotion and understanding of how to wield it in music…it’s an undeniably incredible song.  Love the warm glow of the keyboard melody, love the mix on the vocals, love the lyrics, and both Drew & Rebecca give such stunning highlights in their performances that it should have you standing up and cheering by the end if you haven’t been reduced to rubble and Kleenex from the powerful emotions you’ll find in this song.  Real pin-drop moment – the songwriting is every bit as bulletproof as the performances you’ll hear from the two singers…you’ll come in close to listen to “Eternal Sunshine” and once it’s all over, it feels like the world has stopped turning entirely for a moment, only to begin again once it’s done.  Amazing tune.

So the question really becomes…at track nine…is the lead-single from Montauk really “Take Him To Montauk” – or rather, should it be?  On an album as spoiled for choice as this one is…it’s honestly hard to say – but I’ll say this; it sure can’t hurt.  To be even more honest, I think it also gives Montauk to make an even bigger splash with that second single, which is often a tactic taken when putting an album out there into the world.  The bass-line rhythms of “Take Him To Montauk” are more than enough to demand single-worthy attention from the people out there…the guitars are a perfect fit and add-in noticeable doses of melody to the music, drums sound magnificent, and I mean…C’MON right?  How could you resist the swagger & style when it comes to the vocal hooks of “Take Him To Montauk” right?  If you can, you’re built of stronger stuff than I am…I might have a selection of tunes from this record that I would possibly deem just as single-worthy or more, but there’s no denying just how much fun “Take Him To Montauk” is to listen to and how readily you get pulled into the entire vibe it presents.  I think if anything, I just found it started out surprisingly mellow for a single…still entirely enjoyable, just low-key.  By the time you get to the chorus of “Take Him To Montauk” – it’s so completely understandable as to how this song becomes a single…you’ll be singing the hooks for days & days after you listen to this tune.  The lead-single from Montauk could have been many tunes on the record – in terms of a final verdict, I can think of no reasons as to why this wouldn’t be an enticing & effective track to pull in the people.  Again – make sure to check it out on the latest episode of the SBS Podcast and have a listen…because this I can tell ya with confidence – you really won’t find a bad tune on this entire record.  “Take Him To Montauk” is a totally solid track…we all have our favorites, but I’m certainly not complaining with this and think it’s ultimately a really strong representation of the overall Montauk sound in many ways, which really does make it a natural choice as a single to put out there first to introduce’em to ya.

I liked the added majesty in the sound of “Tell The Fool” and the subtle epic that this tune becomes.  I think there are a few risks being taken here…there’s no doubt it’s a challenging part to sing and that Drew nails the falsetto incredibly well.  I suppose I’m torn between whether or not that’ll hold up over time…whether that approach will strengthen or weaken with listeners as they repeat the experience.  In my opinion, I think it’s another extremely well written song…and I think the subsequent times that you hear the chorus, it’s even more welcome and makes more of an impact as the song plays on.  All that being said – the lower tones in Drew’s register are immaculately powerful and completely resonate right at the core of our BEING…those are the real highlights for me, even though most of those would surround the main hooks of “Tell The Fool.”  Overall it moves slower and lets each part & element of the song bloom & blossom…excellent bass-lines in this tune as well; hard to take your ears off of Drew in this one to notice much else of what is going on…which to me…tells my gut instinct that Montauk’s probably onto something here with “Tell The Fool.”  I also dig how they take a short dip into a Blues-inspired solo and how Montauk has continually made time for the instrumentation to shine in highlight moments on this record just as much as the writing & vocals get the opportunity to.

Musically…I don’t think you can deny how awesome the vibe of “I Won’t Want To Wake Up With You” is.  Vocally…probably the song I was least sure about on the record – not so much for the performance, Drew is as spot-on as ever…I think it was the flow of the melody on this cut.  It draws from old-school Funk and R&B…which I like…and I mean, I can HEAR that the people out there will LOVE this tune – so what do I know anyway?  Like I said earlier, we all have our favorites.  I LOVE how Montauk works the Funk magic on this cut…light Disco of sorts for sure…I think the chorus is extremely strong – if anything I think it was the verse that seemed more like a cakewalk for Montauk at this point…or maybe less inventive than the other tunes by comparison.  I also think I resisted this tune a bit in the transition between the powerful emotions on display on “Tell The Fool” and the upbeat vibes of “I Won’t Want To Wake Up With You” – so that’s a factor to consider as well.  As a standalone cut…I can hear that I might have had an easier time with this one; it’s got a tough spot on the album to fill.  Personally I think Montauk’s got more to give than they give ya on this track somewhat…but at the same time…I mean…that GROOVE…you just can’t deny how catchy this song really is.  PLUS…you get a killer bass solo on this track too…and there just ain’t enough of those in the world, so bonus points for that as well.

Ending the record on strong energy and melody, they shake the Earth with the final track “Dance With The Devil” and put in a riotous final performance to finish their debut album with a memorable impact.  Embracing the Rock-influence more-so than perhaps any preceding moment on the album, they switch effortlessly between a classic sound and a modern day barnstorming – and I’d imagine that this cut could just as easily become the favorite tune on the album for many people out there as any other.  Drew has honestly been incredible throughout this record – he sounds like he’ll never run out of ideas or highlight moments, every bit as inspired and energetic on “Dance With The Devil” and spot-on in his tone as he has been throughout the whole album.  The range of sound between where this album began and this final cut has been nothing short of a serious achievement…and Montauk saves some serious fireworks at the end here in what could very well be the number-one guitar solo on the album, in addition to the rambunctious hooks that fuel the relentless energy of this record’s last song.  Montauk has given you multiple reasons to listen and just as many to believe that this band is on the way to even more amazing things in the future to follow.  This album is 100% outstanding to listen to and a complete confirmation that Montauk has not just arrived, but that they’re setting a new standard for others to compete with – this band is thriving right from the start and could go on to dominate the charts & playlists out there handily over the years to come.  Stay tuned!

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