The album has a strange ability to both soothe and excite in equal measure, perhaps even at the same time.
Words: Hannah Hayden | Photo: Ellie Gray
Robbie & Mona are not actually called Robbie and Mona. Their real names are William Carkeet and Eleanor Gray, however I do not know which given name belongs to either moniker. Anyway, on January 29th, this dreary year of 2021, Robbie & Mona have released their debut album, and I guarantee that whether you live in a quiet countryside town with nothing but the bleating of sheep and the gentle tweeting of birds to listen to, or whether you live in London where there are constant sirens and people shouting for some reason; it will be the most sonically busy 24 minutes of your winter.
Following the release of singles Wallpaper and Queen Celine, Robbie & Mona have showcased the full breadth of their synthesised eclecticism in the album, EW. The album includes 9 tracks, all of which are bound by their changeable nature, and whose most salient character trait seems to be the feeling of grounding at the centre. Steady but provocative vocals are a main feature of the album, as well as occasional branching into childlike intonations on tracks such as Venice and the knowingly earnest musings on Slow Club LUV.
Robbie & Mona’s incredibly variant take on instrumentation is a risk that pays off, in that the tone of the album never strays into the territory of the bizarre. On the fourth and longest track of the album, Cherry Fish, unfamiliar textures and moods are befriended by hazy, observational vocals. This track morphs through a slow-burning and decidedly chill opener, one which teases the possibility of a consistent sound that revolves around 808 beats and vibes synths, but includes an exciting and flourishing second movement that adds new insight into the return of the first section. This track is a salient example of the album’s strange ability to both soothe and excite in equal measure, and perhaps even at the same time.
Aside from the wide range of shifting and warping synth textures, as well as the inclusion of piano, brass, and guitar, the album includes a strong narrative quality which is emphasised by its lyricism and subtle changes between multiple and singular voices. Character-driven lines such as “she questions the day, says yes to the night,” featured on Cherry Fish are met in equal by the conjuring of images, such as in Picking Up Ruby, which offers a brief moment of peace, “smiling like a little boy, blowing into silver.”
Tracks such as Venice resemble a room full of instruments, which are picked up and played at will, then put down in favour of another. This constant element of surprise does play tricks on one’s attention, however without ever being stark. In fact, by the end of one listen through, you’ll have tried to form an instinct for the constant temperamental shifts. EW is a great feat of variation and style from the exciting Bristol two-piece, and we hope that 2021 changes in such a way that we can see them live very soon. The album is out now on Bristol tastemaker label Spinny Nights. Find the band on Spotify here.