Words: Josh Fundafunda
There are certain album covers that almost tell you they’re going to be a ten out of ten. When I first saw that vibrant blue sky backing one of the duo’s playful Dobermans, shiny sheet metal separating the two, I knew I’d love this album. This was my first experience listening to this up-and-coming Welsh electronic duo, I was going in blind, and a few minutes into the opening track “Feelings Plain” I was fully on board.
Who are Overmono?
Photo: Clash Magazine
The two brothers Tom and Ed Russell both had their own respective music careers long before the formation of Overmono. After coming together to release their first project in 2016, they have consistently been putting out exciting music together. The duo’s electronic music has fostered a strong following of dedicated fans.
Individually, their past lies in dingy techno and harsh DnB respectively, but together they bring a bright energy to the dance floor. The best way I can describe their music is a kind of bittersweet melancholy. Many of their songs have a sad undercurrent, but the catchy melodies and drum loops always manage to pull joy out of it.
Now eight years under the name Overmono, the brothers have a solid back catalogue of songs and EPs. Going through their discography, you can follow the images of their now iconic Dobermans on the covers of their most creative work. The recurring image is a staple for the duo and their long-time visual collaborator, Rollo Jackson. The photos always capture an endearing expressiveness in the dogs that speaks to the kind of music Overmono is creating. Their short-and-sweet Everything U Need and Cash Romantic EPs are notable examples. There is no filler on these shorter projects, just back-to-back bangers. These were the first steps of exploring a sound which Overmono is now pioneering.
What about Overmono's new album: Good Lies?
That brings us to their latest project, a full-length album titled Good Lies. From what I can tell, this is Overmono solidifying the sound they have been honing over the past eight years. In short; it is a collection of moody breakbeat bangers that will have you crying in the club. Sampling plays an important part in their music, but here it is entirely limited to vocal performances. Any other droning melodies and thumping drums are straight from the Russell’s themselves. It speaks to their expertise; building up their own glossary of sounds is no small feat, but Overmono has taken up the challenge and stands out amongst the crowd.
The track “Calon,” for instance, starts off with a blisteringly heavy rhythm – something straight out of an Amapiano playlist. Filtered vocal samples and driving kick drums quickly pick up the energy for this gloomy deep house groove. And while that song is all drums, “Sugarushhh” is the polar opposite. Besides a few light high-hat taps, it is predominantly basslines, synths, and samples. It feels more like an experience than a song. The slow build of the muted synth builds and builds, but never really breaks, just dissipates.
The songs are put together with precision – they make it look easy. One of the album’s hardest hitters “Is U,” starts off with some thinned out high-hats and snare-claps. Blunt kick-drums anchor in this song, letting the melodies and vocal sample work their magic. Just as the song sets itself into a grim rhythm with a droning bassline, bright synth chords begin to emerge. They layer over one another, building, harmonising, transposing and finally bursting out with a rush of energy.
It is this balance, the ebb and flow, between feelings of melancholy and happiness that is so enjoyable on Good Lies. It is such a captivating feeling that draws you through each track, and indeed the whole album. Not to mention, the entire project paced with finesse.
There never feels like a lull in the energy, even on some of the moodier tracks like “Vermonly.” It is a testament to the atmosphere the two can create. “Arla Fearn” does this best. “Vermonly” is a minimalist track, a perfect mix of old school and new school. It is dark and dingey and sets the scene for the finale of the album. With each build up is the expectation of a big blowout, but every time we are undercut; the duo pulls hard on the reigns leaving us with muddied basslines, sparse hi-hats, and distorted vocals. It is an infectious groove whilst building up a lot of tension. Thankfully, the final song “Calling out” satisfies. High octane vocal samples and warbling synth leads pair with some energetic drums in one final spectacle before ending serenely with a sombre melody.
These two are carving out a name for themselves on some of the biggest stages in the scene, without sacrificing the uniqueness of their music. It is no wonder why fans eagerly await what is next from them. And if their most recent single “Blow Out” is anything to go by, Overmono are just getting into their stride.