Album Review: Monkeytown

With Monkeytown, Berlin-based electronic maestros Modeselektor have released their best album to date. Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary’s tastes are beyond eclectic. In an interview, the pair labeled Modeselektor as “happy metal, hard rap, country-ambient, Russian crunk” and stressed, “We don’t like it if people tag us as being a certain style or school or scene or whatever. We don’t really care about all that.” The duo certainly do not limit themselves to genre on Monkeytown.

After numerous listens, “Pretentious Friends” may just be the track of the year for me. Among the guests on Monkeytown, LA-based emccee Busdriver is the standout. His humor and fluctuating speed of delivery align perfectly with Modeselektor’s frantic beats on the only hip hop-infused track on the record. The mid-song phone call “was fabulous!”

Modeselektor “Pretentious Friends” feat. Busdriver (MONKEYTOWN015) OUT SEP 30 by Modeselektor

Much of the press around the album centered on Thom Yorke appearing on two of the tracks. Yorke is a huge fan of the band, and Modeselektor has supported Radiohead on tours overseas. Yorke has expressed that the band is one of his inspirations for getting so deep into electronic styles with recent Radiohead and solo releases. On Monkeytown, both Yorke appearances are stellar. His vocals are looped throughout much of “Shipwreck,” fitting nicely with the off-beat drum and bass. Yorke delivers three brilliant, high-pitched verses in the track using an original vocal delivery. It’s like nothing I’ve heard from him before. The second Yorke track, “This,” features more looped segments of different vocal pieces. There are no standard verses, but the use of these vocal fragments play nicely off Modeselektor’s intensely layered composition.

Album standouts include “Grillwalker,” and “Green Light Go.” The latter may be the most straightforward track on the record in terms of traditional song structure, and features Australia-based experimental rockers PVT. “Berlin” may be the most single-friendly and chartable track on Monkeytown, featuring a catchy R&B hook and guest appearance by Romanian-German singer, Miss Platinum. The slowly building “Blue Chords” and the subdued “War Cry” serve as beautiful bookends to a near-perfect album. I’m not sure how Monkeytown will be topped as my favorite album of 2011. I haven’t been this excited about an electronic album since LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening. This one deserves to be part of your vinyl collection. It’s 56 minutes of aural bliss.

Listen to excerpts from the album below or stream the entire thing on the album player on the right side of the page [via Spin]

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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