Super Monster isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it proves that Claud is an artist to watch as they continue to build upon their talent for lyricism and production.
As the first release on the Phoebe Bridgers-founded label Saddest Factory, Claud’s Super Monster is a rich entry in the lineage of bedroom-pop releases that have speckled college radio stations and indie Spotify playlists over the last several years. While Super Monster admittedly adheres to many of the recognizable quirks and forms of the genre, Claud manages to break free from the overdone tropes that often make similar but lesser albums sound like self-parody.
Though only recently inaugurating their twenties, Claud approaches each track with an emotional maturity of someone with lived experiences of heartbreak, loss, and love. The nuance of Claud’s writing is impressive enough on its own, but in pairing this content with melodies and production that trigger memories of youth and its heightened emotionality, the album’s richness builds. These contrasts are similarly present in the bright instrumentation, smooth open tones and synth beats generally lending a bright, positive tenor aside the lyrical melancholy. Opening track “Overnight” makes clear that such themes are what the album will lean into, serving like as an announcement of what’s to follow: “I 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.” “Soft Spot” doubles down, bringing that sense of nostalgia to the fore: “You made it clear that it’s over now / But you’re all that I think about / So now I don’t know what the hell to do.”
Later moments on the album skew toward more contemporaneous, personal dialogues, such as on “That’s Mr. Bitch To You” where Claud offers a challenge to the very concept of gender; their thesis is largely the title, but they go on to sing, “I turned my back / I’m stronger than you thought / Bet you didn’t know / I won’t let a straight man throw me off.” Even universal notions take on new immediacy in a 2021 context, and on “Falling With the Rain,” a soft song about hope that bad things are going to get better, seems perfectly curated for our current times: “I know sometimes I start falling with the rain / Give me some time so I can fall back into place.”
Indeed, Super Monster’s release is impeccably timed; the album feels particularly fresh and of-the-moment without relying on any referentialism that will age poorly. It’s an impressive distinction, as Claud is just getting started in their career. Through both their solo projects and collaborations with their group Shelly (featuring fellow bedroom pop artist Clario), Claud shows immense versatility and an ability to adapt. If we’re to be so lucky — and all indications suggest we are— these traits reflect the necessary honesty and innovation for future efforts as pleasant and refreshing as Super Monster.
Publisher as part of Album Roundup — February 2021 | Part 1.