So in this review I will be talking about the much anticipated album "Tradition" by Monsune.
So a brief history of the artist and my history with his work before I get into it. So in February of 2018 Toronto-Based artist Monsune puts out his first song and music video "Nothing in Return". At the time I was finishing High School and this song had the perfect subject matter and the emotions were heavy. I also loved the instrumentation and the samples in the song. This heavy sampling mixed with the R&B vibes was so different to most of what I found online at that time. The melancholy tone of his singing was a breath of fresh air from the vast majority of the songs I was listening to at the time, neither oversinging or no effort. The music video shows him and some of his friends having a good time while spinning in a continuous circle as if they were on a carousel or merry-go-round. I always felt this fit the song as the song itself felt synesthetically as though it was spinning with the video due to the magic created from the clean nature of the song. The subject matter of the song itself was enhanced by this as the lyrics apply the circular problem of effort in a relationship without equal commitment. All in all a very clean experience and music video.
After this song came out, Monsune went back to making music videos for other folks in the Toronto R&B scene, most notably Brahny. Most of these videos were well made and choreographed with the respective songs, and extremely well shot. Monsune hinted on his social media that he would come out with more music but seemed to be focused on film. As he said this though, the music video for "Nothing in Return" shot from the meager 13,000 or so views I had found it at, to over 2 million. He was in the comments of his video thanking everyone, but his social media became even more flooded with likeminded folks calling for his next release. I myself found myself among the teeming horde following his socials and waiting for the next release, while blasting "Nothing in Return" on multiple of my first year shows.
No further songs came out from Monsune until recently in the end of August he came out with "Outta My Mind" and a month later an EP tied to it called "Tradition". To say the hype was high for me is an understatement, unlike many songs I typically listen to, I had not really gotten sick of "Nothing in Return". I had found it up to that point quite ironic that one of the few songs I seemed to be in the mood for at all times seemed to have no sequels. So when Monsune released his new single I was pumped to say the least.
So when I opened up the new music video for "Outta My Mind", I was pumped to find that it was amazing song. The music video has an amazing aesthetic and the sets and shots are amazingly well done. I also found like the previous the song moved and worked extremely well with the way the song moved in the stereo and synesthetically in my mind. Pulling back left and right where It was appropriate.. The Music video had come leaps and bounds ahead of the previous but the music while still miles ahead of average had lost some of its flash.
I also noticed that his singing had changed. There were two and sometimes three voices mixed into each other for some of the verses and the chorus. The higher voice singing a falsetto in a very desperate sounding tone, the tone of voice that seems closer to the singing from "Nothing in Return" and a lower voice that reminded me of a lot of Joji tracks. This was quite the departure in my opinion from the neutral toned and deeply emotional vocals of "Nothing in Return". Before hearing the EP i felt this was an interesting but overall nice change because it definitely worked in "Outta My Mind" and blended beautifully with the backings.
So I when I picked up the EP and took a listen, I was disappointed to find similar problems in almost all of the tracks. The uniqueness of the tracks seem to be lacking. The last song of the EP "Jade" was my favorite outside of "Outta My Mind" and it still sounded like things I had heard before. My problem is just that the music reminds me of other artists, and things I had heard a lot of from the R&B and indie scenes as of late in the instrumentation and especially the vocals. This lead to the vast majority of the album to be unfortunately forgettable. I can especially hear Brahny's influence in the vocals which his music is very good and I enjoy a lot but like also Monsune's music doesn't seem to fit his style of falsetto. The voice can discord from the song or be driving away. Instead of like the previous two songs especially "Nothing in Return" where synthesis of vocals and instrumentation left the listener to feel caught in a sort of movement, the songs on this album seem to have clean instrumentation and singing that are divergent. The vocals in the background seem to fit many of the songs better than the foreground. The foreground vocals sound as though they are oversinging to sound like Brahny or creating synthesis like in "Outta my Mind" which can make it with the background quite an overwhelming sound. Unlike the sleekness of the other two.
The transistions between parts of songs can be confusing like in "1998" going from an upbeat song similar to "Nothing in Return" and quite good to randomly transitioning into a slow ballad which undercuts the rest of the song. The transition is alright but the autotune slow ballad is not the greatest. It makes you question if its the same song and frustrating due to its lack of ending or development of either part which both seem like they could be developed into something better as distinct songs. "Cloud" is frustrating because at times the well sampled instruments were being sung over in a way that made it hard to hear either, because the voices sounded so completely separate to the track. "Mountain" is frustrating because it is super long and has random sections with 2010 style autotune which would have been ten times better with the singing from "Nothing in return" which is around at times as well, but the song switches wildly in tone from acoustic to the loud but without the supporting consistent vocals it falls flat. To make it all work all he would have to do is fix the autotune in that track. "Jade" is slow song then a very loud and distorted song with vocals with echo effects and yelling which would be good but the distortion of the instrumentation and the vocals do not seem to synthesize at all then do like switching in and out. Which is not on its own bad but together with the slow humming and calm vocals of the first part seem like a total overwhelming madness. Which may be the point but would have also worked better in my opinion as separate songs. I still like the song overall but the amount of lost potential is frustrating. The emotion in all of these songs are not as powerful even as it is obvious by the lyrics how important this is to Monsune. This came previously from the concordance between instrumental and singing, and just isn't here this time. My disappointment is great and my day is ruined.
TLDR: Bad discordant combinations of annoying autotune and sometimes derivative vocals badly sync with amazing instrumentals with occasional dramatic/surprising transitions. The EP had a lot of potential but just fell flat. The Music videos out at this time are amazing though.
My recommendation: Listen to "Nothing in Return" and "Outta my Mind", and skip the album.