In Review: Claud - Super Monster
Super Monster by Claud is an entrancing and imitate portrait of past loves, pulling on the heartstrings and pushing the definition of pop to its most indie and experimental edges. The first full-length release on Phoebe Bridgers’ recently-launched Saddest Factory Records label, expectations were high and in terms of production, songwriting and emotion: no expense has been spared here. It’s easy on the ear and heavy on the heart, in the best way possible.
With the music industry facing the effects of the global pandemic since last March, shut down studios and the paused productions are something Claud never had to navigate. Recording alone is what they’ve been doing this whole time. The indie-pop artist previously performed as part of the duo Toast, with Joshua Mehling, and although they lived in the same city, they would constantly record separately, sending ideas and instrumentals back and forth. Putting the ‘bedroom’ in bedroom-pop, that’s exactly where the majority of Super Monster came to life. It’s Claud’s own world and it’s one dressed in dreamy pop synths and hints of jazzy electronic sounds. Part of that world is Electric Studios in New York, where the album was mixed. Upon leaving the studio, Claud was handed a sketch by Daniel Johnston, who had named the piece “Claud the Supermonster” merging metaphor with Claud’s world and vision perfectly.
Claud says exactly what they want to say in their lyrics though, nothing comes wrapped in metaphor here and that’s what makes it such great pop music. They have been open about being queer and non-binary throughout their career and the stand-out track on the album ‘That’s Mr. Bitch To You’ playfully celebrates their identity in a joyful response to a transphobic comment. Then on ‘Pepsi’, they stick the middle-finger up to the person who makes them feel inferior: “I hate that you told me to masturbate instead of coming over / I hate that I’m riding roller skates and you just bought a Range Rover”. We’re not to be fooled by their softer and gentle moments, Claud will bite back, but playfully with blasts of guitar and genius lyrics.
Their past loves have left them bruised and delicate, but somewhat stronger for it: turning it all into an album glimmering with nostalgia and intimacy. They navigate relationships with a breezy charm and simplicity that cuts to the feeling on songs such as ‘Overnight’ and ‘Soft Spot’ that sound just like a rambling stream of consciousness into your trusty notes app.
At just 21-years-old, Claud has exhibited a masterclass in emotion. This is a super melodic indie album that you can dance to, cry to, and fall in love with. There’s a dream-like quality to their writing that’s left me pining for post-pandemic life, one that resembles those late night conversations bursting with potential, the stumbling of newfound romances, and terror of spotting exes at parties that Super Monster stories. It'll be exciting to see where Claud goes next.