Soundcheck: Husbands - Full-On Monet

OKC indie duo deconstructs pop music bliss on latest full-length.

Full-On Monet secretly may be one of the most prophetic releases of the year. Though it comes from writing sessions during the pandemic onslaught of 2020, its reflections on escapism are perhaps even more relevant in 2022. As society anxiously pushes into a hopeful future, the choices and overtones of the past refuse to evaporate. Similarly, Full-On Monet plays up a sense of wishful thinking in its soft, feel-good hues while never quite shaking its undercurrent of existentialism. It doesn't ask the question outright, but it feels like a meditation on it: When will it be okay to be okay?

Make no mistake. What OKC duo Husbands presents on its third (and best) LP is incredibly fun. Catchy hooks, shimmering guitar lines, and poppy drum machine beats combine with lots of quippy lyrical turns of oddly specific detail, making the 12-track experience as memorable as it is gleeful. Somewhere within it, though, is a persistent conscience that questions its flirtation with happiness. Is this album a lifeline from the crises of the modern age, or does it dance amidst the flaming dumpsters?

The answer lies in the postmodernist title. Full-On Monet is a reference to dialogue in the 1995 film Clueless, which coins the phrase to mean something that appears messier the closer one comes to it. If listeners passively replay these songs for the bright melodies and infectious rhythms, Full-On Monet makes for exceptionally sunny background music. In contrast, deeper listening reveals embedded traces of suppressed anxiety within the duo's finely seamed rhyme schemes. This album is not the bait-and-switch trickery that some pop music pulls, however. Both experiences are intentional and valid. Whether the record resonates one way or another boils down to the individual and how conscious they want the record to be.

Husbands drops numerous nods to this notion in its loaded imagery, which includes romance novels, nostalgic media, cigarettes, and exotic tourist destinations all within the confines of domestic scenarios, providing symbolic windows to elsewhere, if only for a moment. Most notably, marginal yet plentiful references to tequila, sake, wine, and other casual alcoholic drinks color the songs' loose, quirky fragments. This helps contextualize Husbands' fixation on both the iconic and the mundane, both given equal measures of low-key profundity. Furthermore, many of the songs end in conversational humor as if to backtrack any serious downers that might have slipped in to kill the vibe.

That's more important than it may seem, too. Sure, the preservation of the vibe may just be some false sense of relief, but without it, what is left? Positivity keeps people going, and Husbands knows this. The world may be messy up close, but it is okay to take the occasional step back as well, so long as it is not escapist to the point of regression. Even the choruses most laced with sentiments of loss and mortality don't let it get them down because, sometimes, the best way to keep perspective is through an upbeat groove, a breath of fresh air, and a hearty "ayoooooooooo."

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