UK art rock band Squid channel their expansive sound into a concise and adventurous second record, O Monolith.
Produced by Dan Carey, who has worked with Squid’s post-punk contemporaries in Black Midi and Fontaines D.C., much of the record was written on the tour that followed the release of their debut, 2021’s Bright Green Field.
Lead single “Swing (In A Dream)” is a controlled chaos that resembles Radiohead at their most raucous, with a chord progression played so strongly and fiercely that the guitar player likely finished the take with the grooves of the strings indented in his fingers.The identity of the guitar player for the track is, of course, in question. Squid take a collaborative approach when writing songs and don’t place an emphasis on hierarchy, according to primary guitarist Anton Pearson.
All but one of the record’s eight songs stretch beyond the four-minute mark, including second single “Undergrowth,” with its sarcastically lilting, dissonant opening riff slowly giving way to a haunting, moody middle section featuring guitar being stretched to its tonal capabilities en route
to a keyboard-like lurking sound. The song swells as the rest of the band returns for one more verse before sending it on its way, like pushing an empty canoe into a dark lake.
The song that follows, “The Blades,” is Judge’s favorite in the band’s discography, and for good reason, too. It’s another song that feels like it should be called a piece, given the way it moves and shifts in energy over a six and a half minute runtime that feels like three. The brass-led
climax gives way to a 21st-century interpretation on Spiderland, a sparse, guitar-led coda of sorts with hushed vocals from Judge that he said were a result of a conversation with Carey.
O Monolith is simply the result of giving a young, creative band too much time together on the road. It’s fresh, it’s left-of-center and incredibly energetic. The complete five-instrument insanity balances perfectly with the subtler moments that see Squid leaning back and allowing the space
to act as the primary instrument. The approach to songwriting that Squid has taken for their second record results in an adventurous, enjoyable listen.
Order O Monolith by Squid HERE
Looking for something new to listen to?
Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.