Five Albums You Should Be Listening to Right Now: Monster Edition
Not quite a werewolf bar mitzvah, but close.
Over the past two decades, monster mythology has been bastardised by popular culture. Ask your average teenager who was responsible for An American Werewolf in London’s special effects and you’ll be met with a blank stare, but I bet the same kid could recite the cast of Twilight or The Vampire Diaries in their sleep. Now, there have been some decent contributions to the genre, but for the large part, monster movies have been subverted by the sappy, romantic values that completely obliterate the genre’s original intention. Falling in love with a monster shouldn’t entail puppy eyes and thoughts of immortality — it should guarantee the daft idiot is lured into a skanky cave and killed.
To that end, I’ve decided to award you readers with Five Albums: Monster Edition; five albums that honour the macabre without taking themselves too seriously.
1. Laura Stevenson and The Cans, Sit Resist (2011)
On her second album, Sit Resist, Laura Stevenson sings about her entire family dying from an unexplained genetic illness and plotting a cemetery in her boyfriend’s basement. But macabre tales aren’t all the Brooklyn band go for; on “8:08” they carve a poltergeist out of a failed relationship, and “Montauk Monster” imagines multiple ways of committing mass murder. Touched with brass and melodic guitar, the album finds an unlikely centerpiece in Stevenson’s high pitched vocals, which are completely at odds with the content.
Listen: “Montauk Monster”
2. Dead Man’s Bones, Dead Man’s Bones (2009)
In 2011, Ryan Gosling’s fame jumped to new heights. Because of that, his ‘non-musical’ band Dead Man’s Bones aren’t the underground enigma they once were, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying their rough-edged self-titled debut. Littered with references to monsters who lurk in Disney’s Haunted Mansion and the rattle of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir, it features charming songs as “My Body’s A Zombie for You” and “Lose Your Soul.”
Listen: “My Body’s a Zombie for You”
3. Manic Street Preachers, Journal for Plague Lovers (2009)
Any album that starts with a quote from a John Landis film and continues to carve the tale of a girl bathing in bleach in the name of beauty deserves a slot on this list. Manic Street Preachers are no strangers to graphic and disturbing imagery (like, say, the cover art for their album The Holy Bible), but Journal for Plague Lovers takes the subject matter to the next level.
Listen: “She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach”
4. Eef Barzelay, Lose Big (2008)
On his second solo album Lose Big, Clem Snide front man and troubadour singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay lets rip on the Rapture, life and everything we don’t like to think about, painting a picture of loneliness and desolation with a skilled and remorseful brush. More stubble-laden than the other releases on this list, Lose Big highlights the monster in humanity, sneaking in anecdotes about achieving “True Freedom” through suicide and blowing up cars.
Listen: “True Freedom”
5. Lupen Crook, Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping (2006)
From understated insinuation to blatant allusion, Lupen Crook’s debut Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping deals with all manner of ghouls and ghosts, not least of all Crook’s own mental instability. Any one of his albums could rightfully occupy this spot, but personal preference leads me to this release, if only because of “Matilda V” and “Wendy’s House.”
Listen: “Wendy’s House”