It didn’t take long for Monica Martin to make herself busy once again.
We’re just a shade under three months removed from Baraboo-bred folk pop outfit PHOX’s final (for now?) show, and Martin is already center stage again, now through her collaboration with the Tennessee-based producer Violents, aka Jeremy Larson.
Simply billed as Violents and Monica Martin, the duo today released a debut full-length, Awake and Pretty Much Sober, via Partisan Records. It abandons PHOX’s more twee tendencies, instead marrying Martin’s sultry vocals to Violents’ laid-back programming.
Awake and Pretty Much Sober is very much a sonic sibling to another great PBR&B album to come out this year, Sampha’s Process. Like the longtime SBTRKT collaborator, Violents creates spacey, almost blooming soundscapes that could provide the soundtrack to a cocktail party in outer space. “Equal Powers” is the kind of free-floating jam that melts into its surroundings, as if it’s always been there.
But it’s Martin’s vocals that are the true showcase of Awake and Pretty Much Sober. At once smoky and ethereal, she’s the perfect counterpoint to Violents’ tripped-out chillwave. Martin has long built a reputation on her commanding vocals, and they’re never more powerful here than on tracks like “How It Left” or the album’s title cut, where they seem to take the shape of the tracks behind her, deftly following Violents wherever the beat takes them.