Monkey Swallows the Universe release their second album The Casket Letters this week. Their single, Jimmy Down the well was one of my favourite songs last year, but the album, Bright Carvings didn’t follow through on the promise of that song. Sure it had a few other good songs on it, Sheffield Shanty comes to mind, but it was a bit disjointed and uneven. Well, that is certainly not the case with the new Casket Letters, it’s a supremely divine and consistent affair. Nat Johnson’s songwriting is great, but the major improvement seems to be in the band’s ability to arrange the songs. They feel more at ease, not forcing anything and leaving space giving the listener room to hear everything. The first single Science has great cello, plucked violin, brushed drums and a bossa nova-like guitar solo. All of this might not knock you over on the first listen but will gently pull you on each subsequent listen.
There may be nothing as immediate as Jimmy Down the Well here, but the album has gems of a different color. Ballad of the Breakneck Bride is great duet that has country flavor with some beautiful harmonies and what sounds like somebody playing a mouth bow. Elizabeth and Mary has a distinctly I Am Kloot sound to it, with the band coming very close to rocking out. Check out the a few songs from the new record in various formats below and see what I mean.
buy: The Casket Letters