Hailing from Bristol, Robbie & Mona (named after lead singer Ellie Gray’s dogs) release their post-pandemic album ‘Tusky’, following their 2021 release ‘EW’. Their genre is difficult to define, encompassing elements of art/dream pop, jazz, electronic, and even industrial. Upon listening to ‘Tusky’, it may be initially challenging to find a common thread between the nine tracks, as the album and song titles provide little insight. However, as you delve into the album, you will be immersed in the dark yet dreamy world created by the duo, which is eventually shattered by experimental madness.

The opening track, ‘Sensation’, begins with a 40-second wave of noise, foreshadowing what’s to come. Ellie’s hazy dream pop/shoegaze vocals enter in the opening verse, followed by a wave of instrumentation and effects that intensify with each iteration. The harmonized singing on the word ‘sensation’ creates a memorable hook, successfully evoking the desired feeling in the listener. The subtle yet prominent keys in the mix add depth, a motif that reappears throughout the album. Transitioning to ‘Flauneral’, the track starts with a lovely piano line, later accompanied by the saxophone. This song can be described as what would happen if Slowdive became a jazz band, with mixed-gender vocals blending seamlessly with moody, jazzy instrumentation.

Next is the incredibly dreamy ‘Sherry Prada’, a highlight in the tracklist. It conveys themes of longing through ethereal synths and beautiful vocals. Once again, the keys make a lasting impression, lingering in your mind long after the mesmerizing cut ends. All the elements mentioned so far converge in the album’s longest track, ‘Tina’s Leather’, where the saxophone and intermittent waves of sound create a stunning refrain in Ellie’s voice.

The first half of the album feels like being swept away by otherworldly melodies. Despite incorporating different genres, there is a consistent shadowy mood throughout the music. The B-sides offer an even more chaotic experience, constantly shifting between styles and ideas while maintaining a sense of cohesion. ‘Clapback’ starts as a post-punk jam, with the dreamy vocals adopting a more direct tone. Around the minute mark, the song explodes into an insane drum ‘n’ bass-rock hybrid, reminiscent of Pendulum taking a gothic direction. This unique fusion sets ‘Clapback’ apart, even from successful genre-blending artists like Pinkpantheress and Piri. The album’s landscape undergoes another dramatic change with the noisy industrial tracks ‘Dolphin’ and ‘Mildred’, the latter featuring Monika’s hip-hop-style vocals, adding an unexpected variety. The chaos is concluded with ‘Always Gonna be a Dead Man’, which effectively ties the album together by reintroducing the sax and sweet synths from the first half, combining them with the sheer noise of the B-sides.

Fans of experimental music will undoubtedly enjoy this album, as it seamlessly combines numerous genres with intense noise and captivating vocals. Despite the abundance of concepts, Robbie & Mona’s pop sensibilities remain intact, especially in the first half of the album. Fans of classic dream and art pop will also find much to appreciate. The versatility of the duo is exemplified by the comparison to both Slowdive and Pendulum on the same album, showcasing their remarkable range.