Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Overmono Good Lies


A decade ago this month, a duo of brothers took the world by storm with their debut album, which synthesized decades’ worth of UK dance music, filtered it through the moment’s high-intensity EDM, and created something that was invigorating enough to get even the most cynical among us to dance our asses off. By the time that Disclosure released Settle, the Welsh brothers Tom and Ed Russell were already making music on their own (Tom as Truss and Ed as Tessela) and were well-regarded, but it wasn’t until they started making music together as Overmono that they became a sensation. When the duo made their Coachella debut last month, the energy they spent the past seven years building up was readily apparent.

Overmono began in earnest after the Russell brothers rented out a cabin for a week with the intention of trying to collaborate with each other, an idea they’d vaguely entertained beforehand that had never really worked out. But something clicked during that week, and they emerged with songs that had an immediately identifiable aesthetic, one that was different from the dub and techno-leaning music they had been making separately. What drew the brothers together was sampling. They built out a library of different sounds, but what really became the crux of most Overmono songs was the vocal sample. “Nearly always when we end up sampling stuff, it’s the kind of tone of someone’s voice that we’re really drawn towards,” Ed said in an interview. “And then we try to make it melodically how we want it to fit with the tone. The tone is kind of everything, isn’t it?”

Good Lies is populated by voices, none the brothers’ own. You might recognize a couple of them: Tirzah’s “Gladly” (one of the best songs of the last decade) is flipped on the propulsive “Is U,” while slowthai’s familiar bark closes out the album on “Calling Out.” But most of the samples are the result of digital crate-digging, not dissimilar to what the Range engaged in on his masterful 2016 album Potential. The Russell brothers elevate their sources, turn the raw material of an impassioned performance into something transcendent: “Walk On Water” stretches out the striving of St. Panther’s “Greatness” so that instead of hyping you up it makes you wonder why you’ve got any hope at all; “In My Feelings,” a 2021 track by the British-Algerian songwriter Miraa May, is morphed into the album’s shuddering, effervescent opener.

The brothers refined their method of sampling over a long string of EPs and singles that started coming out in 2016, not long after they signed to XL Recordings. Overmono is a play on Overmonnow, an area near where the brothers grew up in rural South Wales. Their first exposure to dance music was parties that took place in pubs, the woods, other unconventional spaces outside the club. Tom, who is 10 years older than Ed, took his younger brother under his wing as he started making music of his own. Their partnership was born of geeked-out enthusiasm, which bleeds through into their exploratory, enthusiastic approach. “When we got older, we realized there’s these scenes that look down on each other and blah blah blah,” Tom said. “Like if you played a certain track in a certain club they wouldn’t like it. I think what Ed and I do now, we really try to embrace that mentality we had growing up, that freedom we had when we were first discovering this music.”

Not to belabor too fine a point, but when they first came up, Disclosure were talking a similar game about breaking down the often rigid boundaries between the UK’s morass of genres. The parallels are too low-hanging to ignore: Two pairs of brothers painted as the acolytes of electronic music, determined to democratize the sport. Good Lies in many ways feels like 2023’s answer to Settle: a reflection of dance music’s current vibes-first manner, more subtle but still appealing. Settle’s cadre of featured vocalists has given way to the muffled anonymity that recalls the jolt of hearing something mesmerizing through the algorithm. And while Good Lies is less pop-leaning, has more true blue “electronic music” energy — dark-sided wobbles and heady trances and foggy strobings — there are enough populist moments that have that Disclosure je ne sais quoi, the kind of dance music that even your non-electronic-music-minded friends would like — tracks like “Feelings Plain,” “Is U,” and “Good Lies,” the album’s title track and defining statement.

“Good Lies” was the first song that the brothers started working on when they decided to finally make an album, but it was the last song they finished, and it sounds like the album’s guiding light: an idealized version of Overmono that is too potent to ignore. They take “No Harm,” a 2015 track by the Norwegian duo Smerz, and inject it with swirling, pulse-pounding energy, an invigorating loop that adds up to a song you could imagine pumping out of speakers all summer long. Wisely, Overmono didn’t overload their debut album with songs as easy and approachable as this. Good Lies is a more abstract album than its most accessible moments would suggest. But they’re in it for the long haul: One transcendent crowd-pleaser is enough for now.

Good Lies is out 5/12 via XL. Pre-order it here.

Other album of note out this week:
• Alison Goldfrapp’s The Love Invention
• Eluvium’s (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality
• Never Ending Game’s Outcry
• Midwife & Vyva Melinkolya’s Orbweaving
• James Ellis Ford’s The Hum
• waveform*’s Antarctica
• Softee’s Natural
• Madison McFerrin’s I Hope You Can Forgive Me
• Charlotte Cornfield’s Could Have Done Anything
• Daisies’ Great Big Open Sky
• Kaytranada and Aminé’s self-titled debut as KAYTRAMINE
• Lucy Liyou’s Dog Dreams (개꿈)
• Gnawing’s Modern Survival Techniques
• Hot Mulligan’s Why Would I Watch
• Cattle Decapitation’s Terrasite
• Mike Gordon’s Flying Games
• Oval’s Romantiq
• BC Camplight’s The Last Rotation Of Earth
• Savannah Conley’s Playing The Part Of You Is Me
• The Acacia Strain’s Step Into The Light & Failure Will Follow
• Island Of Love’s Island Of Love
• Pete Francis’ PTRN SKY!
• Parker McCollum’s Never Enough
• Chained To The Bottom Of The Ocean – Obsession Destruction
• Ky’s Power Is The Pharmacy
• Dropkick Murphys’ Okemah Rising
• Jonas Brothers’ The Album
• DevilDriver’s Dealing With Demons Vol. II
• Wila Frank’s Black Cloud
• Jason Martin’s I Owe Me
• Chloe Gallardo’s Defamator
• Sub Focus’s Evolve
• The Hooters’ Rocking & Swing
• The Rocket Summer’s Shadowkasters
• Easy Dreams’ Sunformer
• Ascended Dead’s Evenfall Of The Apocalypse
• Lake Nakoma’s Lake Nakoma
• MEMORIALS’s Music For Film
• Jeffrey Silverstein’s Western Sky Music
• Rahill’s Flowers At Your Feet
• Helen Money/Will Thomas’s Trace
• Ane Brun’s Songs 2013 – 2023
• Parker Millsap’s Wilderness With You
• aespa’s My World mini-album
• The KVB’s Artefacts (Reimaginings From The Original Psychedelic Era)
• Olivia Newton-John’s Just The Two Of Us: The Duets Collection
• Scott Weiland’s 12 Bar Blues (25th Anniversary Deluxe)
• RP Boo’s Legacy Vol. 2
• Animal Collective’s Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished (Remastered 2023) + A Night At Mr. Raindrop’s Holistic Supermarket EP
• Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret…And Other Stories: Live
• Celine Dion’s Love Again soundtrack
• Belinda Carlisle’s Kismet EP
• Chuck Strangers’s Boys & Girls EP
• WAR’s WAR: The Remixes EP

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