A couple of years ago Orbital got back together.
Stupid joke that incorporates the title of the album, Monsters Exist, here.
There’s a thread of indecision that runs through Monsters Exist. Whilst the album is comprised of light dance tracks, there are some that are darker in sound. Orbital were influenced by the world around them and it really comes through. The album sounds like they tried to find a happy medium for the songs but it’s not quite an even listen.
There’s a bit of a forced pull in the first few tracks before the album finds balance. “Monsters Exist” opens with a dark, aggressive kind of sound. “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha”, a wonderfully cheesy song featuring wonky brass follows “Monsters Exist”. Then the album gets more aggressive again in “The Raid”, then light once more for “P.H.U.K”. The lighter tracks are aggressive in a way, but they’re tonally off for the start. Still, whilst “P.H.U.K” could have been shorter, the tracks do work and the shift is not too jarring. It’s just a bit at odds with the rest of the album as the transitions aren’t as smooth.
Orbital have made a lot of music that makes you think and on Monsters Exist that is no exception. This time around the message feels a bit more direct. It’s easier to work out what Orbital were trying to get across as the songs themselves are a bit more direct, but there is still room for subtlety. There’s enough if you want to think about the meaning, but if you just want to enjoy the music then you’re not going to have trouble.
Monsters Exist progresses well enough from “P.H.U.C.K” onward, weaving through heavier and lighter songs fairly smoothly whilst embracing some interesting approaches as well as some quite familiar ones. The album could have ended at “The End is Nigh”, which would have been fitting. Instead one more track follows.
“There Will Come a Time” is interesting in that it does a good job of closing some of the album whilst almost reaching “Gamemaster” levels of cheese. The song is mostly minimal in sound and has a good balance between the light and heavy. It flows really well and has a fair number of more ambient sounds. The use of Brian Cox’s words and voice don’t clash with the song and inspire thought in a good way. They’re quite humbling, but due to the music they end up coming off as melodramatic. It can take away a lot of intent from the words and be detrimental to the message. However, considering how all the tracks prior progress, the use is appropriate. In a way it’s life-affirming and it’s not overbearing.
Some artists reunite and release stuff that is bad and some reunite and release good. Orbital fall into the latter. They could have churned out an album really quickly but instead they waited and got something out that was good, if a bit flawed in places. Monsters Exist has some issues, but they’re pretty minor. It’s put together well and makes for a pleasing listen.