With an acoustic heart and a blippy-trippy soul, “Give Up” moves with a purposeful stammer, creating dynamic momentum out of some intimate, creative percussion and an evasive, uneven melody. I am enchanted for reasons which remain unclear.
Things begin in a gentle swing, with singer Claudine Muno emerging out of muffled distortion. At 0:38, the track slides into place, but remains noncommittal, blurry in intent however crisp and engaging the sound. Muno sings with persuasive sweetness, providing a strong handhold for the song’s inconstant melody lines, which are abetted by her overlapping vocals. The layered percussion pounds and twitters as she purrs and mumbles, coming occasionally to the forefront with a trenchant phrase—when she sings, now in harmony and unison, “Stop pulling at yourself” (1:21), the song locks in with unexpected force, one of those moments you long to hear again, suspecting however that it’s not coming back (it doesn’t).
Monophona is a Portishead-ish trio from Luxembourg featuring Muno, DJ/producer Phillippe Shirrer (who goes by Chook), and drummer Jorsch Kass. Muno previously fronted a folk-pop band called Claudine Muno & the Luna Boots, which released five albums between 2004 and 2011. Muno is also an author (she has published seven books to date, in four different languages) and a teacher. Schirrer has previously released one album, called The Cocoon, in 2010; a subsequent single called “You Are All You Have,” released two years ago, featured Muno on vocals—if you listen you can sense what Muno brought to the table for the collaboration on Monophona. Kass was previously in a Luxembourg band called Zap Zoo. “Give Up” is from Monophona debut album, The Spy, which was released in Europe in November. You can download the song as usual by right-clicking the title above, or by going to the SoundCloud page. And while you’re at it, you can listen to the whole album, and buy it, via Bandcamp.
photo credit: Joël Nepper