In Review: A Look At Portland Indie Pop Rock Band Rare Monk & Their New Album ‘Never Really Over’

These four Oregon-based lads known collectively as indie pop-rock outfit Rare Monk may exude the look of any ol’ band who might own a total of eight t-shirts between them and make lukewarm GarageBand demos.

But we all know about judging a book by its cover.

Rare Monk has been described to have an incredibly keen sense for writing songs with an almost Orwellian state of mind, and they just dropped their wildly catchy and addictive new album, Never Really Over.

This new album is perfect for anyone who has thought deeply about the relentless and ominously close end of the world and society as we know it. As frontman Dorian Aites put it in their Last FM bio regarding their sound, “Although we draw upon many genres for inspiration, we’ve been creating our own thing based on nothing other than the idea that- these are the songs we wrote cause they sound cool”.

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Throughout this album, there seems to be a central thread of the bursting of bubbles and of the decline of the United States into a book-burning and witch hunting society, bringing America back to the dark ages. That being said, this album is not gloomy, but rather pensive with a touch of melancholy-induced rage every now and then. And for anyone who has an appreciation for the mellow sounds of Beach House or Cigarettes After Sex, Never Really Over should hit a similar sweet spot. 

The album kicks off with “Space Song,” which immediately demonstrates the in-studio dexterity of Rare Monk and their producer Victor Nash. What stuck out to me in this song was the way that each note on the electric guitar rings out, and reminded me a bit of Muse.

“Bitter Baby,” the fourth track on the record, displays a great amount of anguish carried within the vocals of this song, however, I sense that the vocals are merely decor for these intricately produced songs. For example, there is a lovely riff from the guitars right before the final chorus that has one of the guitars climbing higher and higher in pitch which carries the listener to a place of mild discomfort along with eager anticipation until it fades out at the very end of the song.

The use of vocal harmony throughout the entire album is noticeable and sonically satisfying. It was within the final verse of the song, “Stasis”, that the vocal harmony truly caught my attention and forced me to stop typing my notes. The instrumental had quieted and the vocals went into multiple part harmony. Those final phrases were truly gorgeous. 

Something powerful about this album is the juxtaposition between the looming sense of doom for society and the truly mellifluous sound that has been very well produced. This album is vivid, yet soothing, yet cruel, and I believe that anyone with an indie pop rock affinity can find something they like with Rare Monk and Never Really Over.

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