ALBUM REVIEW: Claud, Super Monster
It’s completely puzzling that human beings continue to engage in relationships, isn’t it? When you first meet a person, you feel all these butterflies and wonder what everything is going to be like. Nearly every time, there is a profound disappointment or hurt lying ahead, yet we all continue to play the game hoping these things won’t happen. Even after people break up, it’s almost like the relationship isn’t over. They look back on the relationship with distain or fondness or a mysterious magnetism, it’s as if once a person is in love, they give the other person a piece of their heart forever.
Claud is an new artist that seeks to capture all of this and much more in bright color. As the first artist signed to Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory, I think they carry on the honest songwriting of the label head in their own way. On the very best moments of her new project Super Monster, they spin tales of longing and lust after a night out over psychedelic, festival-ready indie rock instrumentals. She opens the album with the wondrous, Clairo-esque “Overnight”. They are so direct with this chorus and many others on this album, as they sing “Fell in love like a fool overnight/I fell behind, can't keep up with real life/And all the time spent with you in my head/Turned into things that we finally did, overnight”. Their voice is so expressive and compliments the instrumental so well.
This track is probably the most happy and lovey on the entire album, but it’s deceivingly so. They say she “fell in love like a fool”, almost as if they were tricked. Once they're in their relationship, that’s when they get into their questioning bag, one that they absolutely dominate throughout the rest of the album. “Jordan” is a great example of this, over a slow-burning, bass-heavy backing, they wonder why they need to keep apologizing for shit they didn’t do wrong. Or on the hazy, driving “Soft Spot”, they question why they're still thinking about this ex. The ultimate conclusion for them is always so simple, they loves and/or misses this person in a very deep, guttural sense. It’s so relatable, they would tolerate so much bullshit to just satisfy this fundamental need they have to be loved not in general, but by this one specific person, it’s incredibly relatable in my opinion.
I really enjoy the innocence of the record. Songs like the bite-sized “Rock At Your Window” or the Nilüfer Yanya-like “Gold” have this really cutesy quality to them, I just want to put Claud in my pocket and have them sing these songs to the people I love when they’re fucking up. I LOVE “Gold”, the chorus is incredible “Don’t say (don’t say)/You were there when you weren’t/Cause I don’t think (don’t think)/You were there when I was hurting”. They’re not messing around, they're very emotionally tough and they know what they want despite the warm and cuddly tone of their voice. “In Or In-Between” is another very relatable romance jam, where they beg the question, are we doing this or what? More than anything, I hate when the person I’m dating is cryptic or indecisive. Over a skittering and percussive beat, they make their partner give it to them straight. “Please, can you tell me what you mean?/Can you spell it out for me/‘Cause your lips are hard to read”, she wants to give this person a kiss but doesn’t trust their lips, another direct chorus that hits hard.
Speaking of, “That’s Mr. Bitch To You” throws the nice person routine aside to be a little profane and tongue-in-cheek. The ‘90s pop-punk guitars are a nice change of tone as well, as they sing “Mr. Bitch, Mr. Bitch, that’s Mr. Bitch to you!” The guitar solo at the end of their track is a major highlight of the record as well, it’s soaked in ‘80s nostalgia and reverb, honestly I wish they had more solos on this thing. Often times, the instrumental palette can get stale, tracks like “Guard Down” and “This Town” are major examples for me. She kind of just sounds like Phoebe Bridgers without the rich symbolism and stabbing lyrics, but moments like this don’t completely detract from the good Claud does here.
I think this album would’ve actually benefitted from a bigger name like Bridgers or even Clairo, but the smaller names do a pretty effective job in their own right. The closer “Falling With The Rain” is a great piece of ‘90s indie throwback, with some nice lyrics equating natural breezes and weather with falling into place, and guest singer Shelly does a great job at making it all sound more lively.
I think Nick Hakim of Onyx Collective does an even better job on “Ana”, he duets with Claud on my favorite chorus, this song gives me CHILLS. This song is essentially about, figuratively, having the balls to fight for the one you love. “It's been a pleasure to be your man and/I could hold you for every dance but/If I don't ever take this chance then/I should never have been your man”, it’s powerful chorus is all about rolling the dice. Even though relationships can be difficult and require lots of work, in the end it’s worth it if not just for the thrill. Through all the bullshit and arguing that could end things, it’s the fight one puts up to keep it together that ultimately proves whether or not they love the person. The relief of a cease fire can provide such a calm, but the wave of regret that comes with ending things can hit even harder. It’s the way Claud narrates these choices and balances involved with love that makes her music so precise and real.