Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Momus

Bibliotek

(American Patchwork; US: 5 Jun 2012; UK: Import)

Momus has never been an artist that seems to care much for what people think about him. His eccentric musical proclivities have yet to move away from low-grade Casio keyboard sounds, he examines taboo topics like child molestation and necrophilia (respectively, “The Guitar Lesson” and “The Cabriolet” from 1989’s Don’t Stop the Night), and his influences range from obscure parts of Japanese culture to the least accessible parts of French philosophy. Plus, it’s usually not the case that breakout singer/songwriters are eyepatched Scottish guys named after the Greek god of satire.


Thus it should come as no surprise that Bibliotek, his twenty-somethingth release, is as obtuse as anything he’s put out before. The instruments are so lo-fi and quiet it’s as if he recorded the album several feet away from the mics. (In a clever turn, many of the samples used throughout the record were sourced from YouTube.) His voice is disinterested and often off-key. But amazingly enough, these all end up being reasons why Bibliotek works so well. Momus writes great pop songs in roundabout ways; his brand of songwriting masks the infectious hooks he dims with subdued production values. This is a risky method, and even though it doesn’t always pay off, when it does it gives a pretty convincing impetus for other artists to record with atypical production techniques.


Additionally, much like Momus’s past work, the melodies and hooks really serve as a means to enter the world of his lyricism, which is the real draw of this LP as well as his entire body of work. There are many examples of his sharp wit and wordplay here, but two are worth isolating. The first is “Core”; backed by a brilliantly placed sample of Al Bowlly’s “Guilty”, Momus sings from “the bowels of the earth” where he has found his home after being left by his love. With equal measures vengeance and loneliness, he says to her, “wishing to hell you were here.” The second is the title track, another rumination on loneliness from the perspective of a library book. Both of these songs are Momus at his best, a considerable feat for a musician who has lived on the fringes of obscurity for as long as he has.

Rating:

Brice Ezell is the Assistant Editor of PopMatters, where he also reviews music, film, and books, which he has done since 2011. He also is the creator of PopMatters' Notes on Celluloid column, which covers the world of film music. His writing also appears in Sea of Tranquility and Glide Magazine (formerly Hidden Track). His short story, "Belle de Jour", was published in 67 Press' inaugural publication The Salmagundi: An Anthology. You can follow his attempts at wit on Twitter and Tumblr if you're so inclined. He lives in Chicago.


Media
Momus - Core
Related Articles
By Rahm Bambam
9 Apr 2013
Momus may be the musician who most consistently makes me laugh and his wordplay and his logician’s ability to follow a funny premise to its often troubling culmination are as admirable as any comic’s.
16 Jan 2011
After two years of writing, art, and plundering YouTube for his favorite songs, Momus got the inspiration to craft and record a new album of his slightly warped pop.
15 Jan 2009
Momus has always done his own thing.
By Michael Mikesell
7 Apr 2005
Scotland's globe-trotting closet genius delves deeper into his self-styled world of 'chanson concrete', cloaking tuneful epic narratives within daunting layers of sound and noise.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.