This year, Tom Snowdon (Lowlakes) and Tom Iansek (Big Scary) have been steadily releasing singles from their much-anticipated debut album as No Mono and now it has arrived. The 9-track album, titled Islands (Part 1), was recorded over a three-year period, and features an eclectic mix of styles and sounds, with the duo pulling influence from many years of performance and songwriting, as well as Snowdon’s Alice Springs upbringing, and his ties to central Australia.
The album’s opener – and arguably their most popular single – ‘Violence Broken’, brakes open with a catchy vocal hook, and feels like the kind of song you’d Shazam while sitting on a threadbare couch at a house party at 2am, then listen to on the drive home once you’ve sobered up.
There are more really beautiful standouts on this album. ‘Violence Broken’ is definitely one of them, as is the piano-laden ‘Frostbitten’, with lyrics such as “you were f*cking crazy to believe that I’d follow you forever”. Another is ‘Forever’, with an 80s-reminiscent guitar and vocals combination, and a more pronounced, upbeat drumline than the rest of the record. The instrumental interlude ‘Water’s Edge’ fills with ambient sounds of the ocean combined with the crunch of footsteps painting a vivid picture of a dimly-lit ocean shoreline or near-abandoned dock.
Islands (Part 1) is diverse, with the differing effects and instrumentation tied together by Snowdon’s unique vocals, and the record’s underlying emotional theme. No Mono have said the album is a reflection of “the turbulence of loss and change and the transformative power that accompanies these moments”, and this rings clear through both the stripped-back instrumentation and haunting lyrics of realisation and moving on.
While very much under the chill/ambient banner, each song on the album sounds a little bit different. If you’re a fan of the genre, and self-reflective lyricism, Islands (Part 1) is definitely worth a listen