Some records have the ability to plunge the listener into some kind of alternate reality. Annique Monet's uber-psychedelic debut album 'Phantom Letters' will do that to you. It took a few notes for opening track "Salt, Veruca," (streaming) to hypnotize us with its haunting beginning: a simple electric piano part, whistles, a fake horn section and a droney verse slowly led us towards a celestial chorus, which was quickly fogotten - for good - in favor of a baroque, droney outro. The following track 'Voodoo', a grottesque and dissonant waltz, took us to a really weird (and scary) place: we saw the devil looking at us through the speakers, from Vienna. With a beautiful melody, the first few bars of "Nowhere" brought back some hope for a return to light, but the song didn't go anywhere - we should have expected it, considering the title. 'Relapse' delivered another waltz - a more subtle one - but filled to the brim with eerie and decadent melancholy. From its plodding intro, Turtlenecks in July resurrected the ghost of The Beatles' psychedelic pop, although sounding nothing like it, while in '52,' Greek mermeids lured us with the most ghostly of lithanies, asking us to join them - and drown. The following two songs on the record kept this beautifully absurd, elusive dream going, with noteworthy track "Unchange" closing the collection.
Although we often praise structure in songwriting (many songs here would benefit from more of it), there's very little structure in a dream - which is what this album is. In a scene that seems to have lost the imagination of its peak years, this is a record that will hopefully inspire other NYC artists to be more daring.