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Good Lies – Overmono album review: a bid for mainstream success

 (Elliot Morgan)
(Elliot Morgan)

Does it still count as a supergroup if it’s two people from the same family? Tom and Ed Russell, brothers from the Welsh borders, are almost a decade apart in age and made their reputations separately in different corners of the dance world. Tom produced techno as Truss before the name acquired unfortunate political connotations, while Ed was making rave and drum and bass, including the much-loved 2013 track Hackney Parrot, calling himself Tessela.

Since 2016 they’ve been united as Overmono – the name coming from the first Truss release – meaning they’ve had plenty of time to become known as remixers and formidable live performers before this debut album, which is clearly intended to act as their breakthrough to crossover success. They remixed a Thom Yorke single in 2020 and were voted the UK’s Best Live Act by readers of DJ magazine in 2021, but now are closer to the mainstream than ever as the anointed remixers of Ed Sheeran’s recent single, Eyes Closed. In their hands the tune remains, but Sheeran’s voice is filtered and twiddled until he sounds like 18 robots singing at once.

It’s a trick at which they prove highly adept throughout Good Lies. Voices, usually female, provide human warmth and melody, but are also cloaked in so much digital alteration that lyrics are frequently indecipherable, giving an alien strangeness to the music. On a slower song such as Walk Thru Water, the voice sounds distorted and unhappy. On Sugarrushhh, despite a title suggesting that this will be the big pop single, it’s a faraway female ghost, keening while an acidic synth line becomes ever bigger and more urgent.

There are echoes of the haunting style of Burial, and though there’s enough catchiness here to avoid sounding as cold and nocturnal as him, Overmono consistently avoid the obvious move. The beats, constructed through what the brothers have described as an incredibly painstaking process involving lifting and processing each individual drum sound from a different place, never do the build-and-release thing so common in dance music. Songs are comparatively short for club material, and tend to vanish long before they’ve done anything you might have been expecting.

It can make their sound hard to cling on to, and it may yet be too foreign for them to follow other recent dance breakthroughs such as Bicep to the highest chart positions. Still, it’s an intoxicating style that reveals itself gradually and allows them to stand alone.

XL