Friday, December 1, 2023
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Squid – O Monolith Review

Build and build on the electronica, retro-like fittings of Swing (In a Dream). Rising from that comes Squid with their second album. They open with whining and brooding little instrumentals which compound into something grand and absolute. O Monolith is the result, a sharp and experimental piece of, well, let’s call it what it is, progressive rock. Lengthy bits and pieces are scattered across their eight-track album and plenty of cowbell and keyboards to suit it. Are they a post-punk band or is this just a label for what we no longer understand? Broad strokes for different folks, whatever O Monolith is, it is very, very good. Rising, rumbling and coursing through, Squid finds themselves shaking people awake with their latest album.  

Foraging through life on Devil’s Den, a light guitar riff lingering throughout as the softer flourishes of Squid come to a head, gives the band some much-needed variety. Some scope to deliver bigger and better, as though Devil’s Den were set to explode. It does eventually, briefly. Squid manages to convey some surprise that a track with the Devil in the title does indeed explode, right into a static shot of electronica and heavy percussion. What a wonderful blur it is. Even then as the train that is Siphon Song pulls into the station, the steam and chugging screeches which soon fade out and into a calmer flourish, are a nice pull. O Monolith cruises along nicely, jaggedly so, pushing forward towards album highlight Undergrowth. 

Perhaps this is the highlight for those yet to have their coffee and coming off the comedown of listening to Rowland S. Howard. A flicker of the man himself in the opening moments, the pitch found in Ollie Judge’s style before pushing through those saxophone-clad moments and heavier guitar riffs. Flatness in monotony for some moments though, and as Squid show The Blades off with its cries and yelps of anxiety, they touch on a tone experienced by the pastel-coloured walls and horrors within the mundane. Squid marks a change in fundamentals for their second album, creativity through monotony as they chart their way through the dull and soggy streets of England. They rightly identify the hell it is and spring to action, tearing down what they can and shielding their listeners from the horrors of the outdoors.  

Bring them indoors and into this weird and warm embrace then, because as broad a genre post-punk now is, it envisions just about everything which punches up. Squid are more than the wide tag they fall under though and bring about artier shots which work thoroughly well in the latter half of the album. Endless repeating, endless waiting. We are given shots of adrenalin when our number comes up in the queue or we can move on to the next static, uncomfortable chair. Absolutely intoxicating as Squid are, their putdown of the world around them is necessary. Fresh? Maybe not, everyone fears what they can see if they put the pieces together, and O Monolith will do just that for many.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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