Music Review: Molchat Doma’s “Этажи“

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Kolja Westhues, Writer

Belarusian post-punk band Molchat Doma’s 2018 sophomore LP, Этажи, is one of the best new wave revival albums of the 2010s. 

An amazing opening sets the theme for the album in “На дне,” which features ambient vocals and a heavy synth. Towards the end of the song, the slight build-up pays off very well with a mix of heavy bright synths and ambient lyrics.

Танцевать,” the second track, is a somewhat less enjoyable song because of its heavy repetition. However, it does a better job setting the more depressive tone of the album than the opening track.

The third track, “Фильмы,” is closer to the first song when it comes to how the instrumentals feel. However, it synthesizes the first two songs more because it has both a bright and depressive feel. The vocals are similar to the second track and the guitars have a similar feel to the synths in the first track.

Волны,” the fourth track, is one of my favorites on the record because of the perfect mix of the extended main riff and the more complex use of the drum machine. The vocals are both louder but echo more, making them have more focus while also remaining ambient.

The fifth track, called “Тоска,” has a much more ambient feel than the others. The reverberated instruments and vocals feel less front-and-center than in other tracks.

Прогноз,” the sixth song, is a different song instrumentally than the other tracks. It uses an oddly compressed synth that almost feels like the first track but has a whole different sound to it. It is characterized by its bright sound, though thematically the song is not bright whatsoever.

You may have heard Molchat Doma’s most popular song, “Судно (Борис Рыжий),” when it blew up on the viral social media platform TikTok. It is a much more energetic song than the others and takes heavy influence from new wave bands such as New Order. When translated, the lyrics are incredibly dark in comparison to the song’s feel.

The seventh track, “Коммерсанты,” is a much slower song that has a completely different instrumental feel than the other songs. The main synth used sounds almost out of a 1980s Nintendo game; however, it still carries the depressive vibe found on the rest of the album.

The final song, titled “Клетка,” is a perfect ending to the album. This song is much slower than the others, and instead of only taking influence from more traditional new wave sounds, it also has a very similar sound to the band The Cure. 

This album encapsulates almost all of my favorite elements from the new wave and post-punk genres while also keeping the music fresh. It also adds a lot that the band sings in Russian, because as a non-Russian speaker, the vocals are more of an instrument and less a device of transmitting poetry.

In conclusion, I give this album a 4.5/5.