Sky High and Submarine is out now via LGM Records.
Smooth and hypnotic indie psych outfit Mono Club released their stellar new album Sky High and Submarine at the tail end of last month via LGM Records. It is delectable. Posessing an effortless and serene atmosphere, the tracks on the album call to mind the more restrained work of a band like My Morning Jacket. We’re mad about it.
With that in mind we decided to wanted to know more about the record. Enter band member John Herbert, who told us how the symbolism of Venus rising, anxiety, and uncertainty are linked to the record.
The song was written after the break up of Goldheart Assembly, I guess there’s an element of bitterness in tone at the start of the song. The overarching tone of the song is one of finding both an inner/personal sense of harmony in a time of personal uncertainty and self-doubt; whether you’ve ‘had your chance’. It also alludes to a collective desire for harmony in a wider sense in terms of other people in a work and personal sense. By the end, I feel the lyric suggests a feeling of rebirth and culminating in a found sense of harmony and personal reconciliation
2Sky High and Submarine
I had been mulling over the title Sky High and Submarine and wanted to write a song with that title. I’d been playing with the initial riff in drop C and I liked the drone of the detuned low E string. We started layering up an intricate mesh of complimentary guitar lines. It contains some really tasteful (and tasty) drum fills from Nicky which embellishes the ‘motorik’ beat without losing any of its impetus. The song expresses the push and pull, up and down of existence, and how, it seems at sometimes in life there is no in between between the ‘Sky High’ and the ‘Submarine’.
As with a lot of songs on the album, this song began from a rhythm track, I was laying up loops and distorting them and phasing them to get this swampy, slacker, calypso type feel. I was channelling the Beta Band and Beck. It was written using the same drop C tuning as Sky High and I was pleased with it’s sound as I’d never written anything that sounded so overtly poppy like this before. It was originally planned as the final song on the record, as the repeated refrain at the end of the song represented a positive feeling of transmigration into a greater sense of wellbeing.
4Other People’s Worlds
I feel like it’s the major song on the record. I had the two major sections of the song and used the big riff to bookend the faster ‘band’ section and make it all fit together. There are some lovely piano parts throughout the quieter opening section from Jake, and Dan and Kyle’s guitars compliment each other perfectly throughout the louder section. I wanted to make a song to represent isolation, anxiety of existence and the pressure of time passing. In some ways, I feel it’s a bit of a difficult listen as it’s very personal, but I feel like it was necessary to express it.
5Best Laid Plans
I suppose there’s an element of a post-Goldheart Assembly attitude to this one, we had made lots of plans I suppose but ultimately the song reflects a positive attitude to get on with stuff after that had finished, and do it the best you can! It was the first song we recorded for the album and features a nice instrumental section where Dan and Kyle take half each. It shows their differing styles and makes a nice point of demonstrating that we have two really great guitarists in the band. It’s poppy sound and short length made it perfect to follow ‘Other People’s World’ and all the intense themes that was exploring.
6Over the Moon
I’ve always liked this one, it’s a really hushed song but I like the way it grooves in a sensual way. Nicky’s drums invoke the forward momentum of following something or someone. Kyle’s nagging guitar parts are among my favourite on the record and I like its economy of words and melody. The verses are only made up of about three notes, but I think this creates a sense of tension.
7Place Called Home
To me, it evokes early R.E.M. at their poppiest and adds something tonally different to the album. Thematically it concerns the struggle between two people ‘destined’ to be together through waves of complication brought on by the protagonist’s ego, insecurity and pretension. I was struggling to like the song at first, I felt like it was missing something. I was listening to a lot of Go-Betweens and B52’s at the time and wanted to hear a female voice on my song. I asked Lyla to add something to it and as soon as she’d sung the countermelody to me and I’d heard our voices together I knew it was right. I wanted her to inhabit the song rather than just guest on it and she does. It began the process of working together more closely, to the extent that she joined the band added her vocals to much of the record.
I wanted to write something with tribal beats echoing Running Up That Hill or Cloudbusting by Kate Bush. It was written very late at night in a very still, reflective moment when then you can feel a tenderness and connection with the natural world and the universe as a whole. It reflects the fulfillingness of experiencing a truly solitary moment and a personal meditation on the smallness of ourselves. There’s also an allusion to the warmth and power of femininity through the symbolism of Venus rising. I like the snare hits that are all scattergun and syncopate with the beat, they are more emotional embellishments than opposed a purely timekeeping device.
9Heaven Was Her Heart
The song originated from a riff that Kyle had recorded for me. I ask him for something really simple. I looped it, put some beats behind it and song a melody over just that. Because I had no chords grounding the melody it’s full of strange harmony which I quite liked. Jake added a load of outrageous electronic sounds to it and it started to take shape. It’s a peculiar song and was more of a mood experiment than an actual song. I like how extreme all the sounds are on it though.
With all the chiming, insistent guitar lines I think it lends the end of the album a euphoric feel. Lyla’s multi-layered harmonies really add to that too. I was pleased with the middle 8 which moves to a different key and resolves back again, I like it when a bridge or middle 8 takes you to a different place in the context of a song. The lyrics reflect the disorientation one might feel in times of upheaval and might consequently lead to some sort of self-imposed internal torpor. The end of the song reflects on this and leads to the realisation that sometimes you have to coax yourself into confronting an issue and find reason in seemingly difficult scenarios.
Find Mono Club on Facebook.