Interference is the latest album from the German electronica group Close to Monday. Without knowing much about the band or this album’s recording and release, it has the feel of a self-produced album, possibly even having been made in a home studio. In fact, everything about Close to Monday has a very D.I.Y. vibe to it, such as their own handling of distribution and PR, which is very commendable, and why I wanted to cover them after they reached out.
Nobody likes art by committee, but sometimes having outsiders to check and see if your art and message is understandable to everybody else isn’t the worst thing in the world. The band’s website states that the purpose of their music is to lead the listeners on a guided pilgrimage of the world with the help of their lead singer, Any, named due to her alacrity in any situation. This many give the impression of the band being xenophilic and peripatetic vagabonds, which seems to be what they are going for, but the music itself is so Eurocentric that it seems at odds with this image.
Any’s lyrics aims for reflective and profound. This is a difficult thing to critique because what fails to leave an impact on one listener may have an impact on another and I don’t wish to state the intent of the songwriter, as, for her, they may be a substantial meaning; but, from this reviewer’s perspective, the lyrics felt more like the gesturing towards astuteness and depth than actually having anything to say. It should be noted, however, that Close to Monday present their lyrics in English rather than German, so, understandably, things may be lost in translation along the way.
Their lyrics also seem incongruous with their music. The album favours Eurodance and techno beats, a music typically favoured by chemically altered listeners to have a simple and repeatable hook to sing along to and a breakdown section to go crazy to in the club. Generally, it’s not the genre of choice for making introspective music to, but there is precedence for it. MØ is an example of an artist that incorporates melancholic and dysphoric music and lyrics within the genre, but she understands to still have the tropes mentioned above to gauge the audience. Close to Monday fails to do so, and the result feels like something that a DJ should be banging out in a club, but without anything to solidify them as club anthems. Simultaneously, it doesn’t feel like music that should be listened to individually at home in times of reflection either, as the beats inspire dancing and partying. Admittedly, it may be a unique idea to mesh the two conflicting modes together, but it’s hard to see who the audience for it is.
Most of the beats on the album are not unique or inspiring, either. In fact, the majority of them feel like royalty free beats taken off the internet. The worst offence is probably the song “Wrong Number”, which has arguably the most interesting vocal track and flowing narrative on the album, but is layered over an unappealing and generic techno instrumental. It is not all bad, however; “Senses” is a standout track and probably the best overall song on the album. “Salzburg” seems to be more in tune with the feeling Close to Monday wish to convey and “Step By Step” is the most successful song on the album at marrying the dejected and the upbeat. “Come Back” seems like more of the same that’s expected, but has an interesting twist at the end, which stands out.
There are glimmers of potential on Interference that are not fully realised. Any has a great voice that conveys emotion sincerely and the band are at their best when they are experimenting in the atmospheric and subdued, but when they breach out into loud techno there just isn’t much to grab onto. It can be difficult to give middling reviews to fledgling acts for fear of dissuading them in their pursuits, but hopefully this review can serve for them to consider their direction and play towards their strengths. Interference isn’t exactly a bad album, but it’s lack of originality in its musicality and inharmonious intent bring its favourability down. That said, Interference did enter into the top ten in the Deutsche Alternative Charts in the group’s homeland, where it sat for weeks. So maybe they don’t need to change and this has been the failing of the listener.