Monks and guitarist Liz Ball formed the band after bonding over a shared passion for explosive, grungy rock and roll in high school, and the two have been inseparable and unwavering in their vision ever since. By the time they recorded their debut, Monks and Ball had fleshed out the lineup with bassist Jimmy Tony and drummer Benjamin Reinhartz and hit a blistering stride that floored critics on both sides of the Atlantic.
For an entire year, Monks wrote alone in her bedroom every single day on a white Flying V guitar, starting first with moody drones and noise beds run through her pedal array before warming up her voice and allowing words to flow freely from her subconscious. Band members began showing up once a week to help Monks refine the material she was channeling, honing in on taut, lean structures that cut straight to the heart of things. Producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck) encouraged the band to lean into the unique space their music occupies and be unapologetically themselves. Rather than smooth out the rough edges, he highlighted them, drawing every potent ounce of energy from the foursome’s swampy tones, raspy vocals, and volatile rhythm section.
Heaven opens with the dreamy “I Feel Free,” which begins as a floating, untethered soundscape before transforming into a soaring anthem. It’s an ideal entry point for an album that aims to clean the slate, with Monks promising “We’ll start it again / In a moment of silence” as she finds peace through letting go. While the music is undeniably ferocious, there’s uplift woven into the fabric of every track. The inexorable “Believe” insists on self-confidence, while the driving “Sober Motel” celebrates the lucidity a clear mind, and the lilting “Sorry Ur Mad” makes a case for releasing yourself from the prisons of anger and resentment. Escape is a frequent goal—from the bruising “Marijuana” to the epic queer tragedy of “Bad Biology”—but it ultimately solves very little, at least in any permanent way, and so the album carves out its own atheistic religion to get through the day, a faith that validates our pain as real and valid but responds with a beaming light of hope (and maybe a little bit of weed).
1. I Feel Free
4. Sober Motel
5. Sorry You’re Mad
7. Pretty Cold
8. Bad Biology