THUMPERMONKEY

Art rock awk­ward squad go the whole prog hog.

Prog - - Intro - DOM LAW­SON

The ex­tent of Thumpermonkey’s evo­lu­tion is clear in the open­ing Veldt. It be­gins with a serene but un­set­tling over­ture, front­man Michael Wood­man’s plain­tive croon paint­ing warped and hazy pic­tures as the mu­sic slowly builds into an an­gu­lar mini sym­phony, re­plete with crash­ing doom metal riffs and dron­ing, dis­so­nant keys.

Where some­thing like fan favourite Wheezy­boy (from 2014’s Sleep Fu­ri­ously) was all about syn­co­pa­tion, od­dball time sig­na­tures and jerky polyrhythms, Veldt is all rich­ness, depth and fi­nesse. More im­por­tantly, per­haps, it’s an ab­so­lutely stun­ning way to kick off Make Me Young, Etc. Cranefly is a more straight­for­ward af­fair, a brood­ing slow-burner that reaches an un­easy cli­max when Wood­man sings, ‘When you let him come up­stairs, he’ll write his name in burn­ing let­ters 10 foot high on the wall,’ sound­ing gen­uinely freaked out.

By the time Figstorm drifts into view, point­edly hing­ing on the singer’s voice and some plain­tive and vul­ner­a­ble piano, it’s ob­vi­ous that Thumpermonkey’s cre­ative growth has trans­ported them away from the noise rock ten­den­cies that typ­i­fied their ear­lier mu­sic. Af­ter the evoca­tive sparkle of one-minute in­ter­lude But­ter­sun, more piano ush­ers in Deckchair For Your Ghost, a feast of Robert Wy­att-es­que re­straint and melodic ec­cen­tric­ity with sev­eral drop dead bril­liant lyrics that match the vis­ual power of the sur­round­ing squall, not least, ‘Long mind­less ten­ta­cles of heat stretch from the sun, ger­mi­nat­ing some name­less de­sire…’ – an ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion of this year’s British sum­mer, per­haps?

A whop­ping 10 min­utes long and eas­ily the most am­bi­tious thing Thumpermonkey have pro­duced to date, Make Me Young, Etc’s ti­tle track is where this band push the prog fader into the red. Bor­der­line or­ches­tral in its in­tri­cate depth, it boasts so many twists and turns that it’s al­most too much to take in on first lis­ten. At times it sounds like an un­der­wa­ter Gen­tle Gi­ant, at oth­ers it’s like Joe Jack­son fronting mid-70s Van der Graaf. Ei­ther way, it’s an au­da­cious and ut­terly ab­sorb­ing state­ment from a band that have al­ways seemed to revel in their shad­owy, un­der­ground sta­tus, but that here sound ready to step into the light and blow some minds.

The al­bum ends with Tem­peTerra, an­other woozy, pi­anoled stum­ble through Wood­man’s skewed imag­i­na­tion, via ‘Scat­ter­ing my­lar em­bers’ and ‘the melted cryosphere’. Quite what it all means is any­one’s guess, but as an­other deeply wonky crescendo fades to black, Wood­man’s part­ing shot seems to say it all: ‘So stop try­ing to fill your scrap­book/Take a look at where we are.’ Wise words from a truly unique and in­creas­ingly pow­er­ful band.

THE BAND ARE READY TO STEP INTO THE LIGHT AND

BLOW SOME MINDS.

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