Malumi – ‘Monsters And Fireflies’ [Review]
A jack of all trades is a master of none.
Or so we’re told. It sounds like common sense – and it is. But common sense isn’t always accurate.
Between them, Klaire de Lys and Sara Rose have almost every art, craft, and entertainment-related outlet covered. From comedy writing and lifestyle blogging to award-winning YouTube makeup tutorials, fantasy novels, webcomics, sculpture, visual art, and a head-spinning range of future projects in the pipeline, Klaire and Sara are both pretty busy, to say the least.
So, that makes them jacks (or Jills?) of multiple trades. Following the apparently immutable logic of common sense, Malumi and their debut album Monsters And Fireflies should be mediocre at best. This review, in turn, should be dismissive or even righteously outraged; how dare two people whose names are synonymous with non-musical endeavours go not just writing songs, but even recording them and releasing them to the public??!?!???!?!?
Well, Malumi have dared to do all of the above – and the results are going to incense the haters and trolls of the Internet, because Monsters And Fireflies is a fucking great album. It’s a collection of eleven tracks that seamlessly merge multiple genres into a whole that could be summed up as cinematic pop often crossed with epic rock. But most importantly, I can’t hear Malumi’s influences. This is a unique album that stands apart from the crowd – and Malumi’s sound is recognisable as their own.
That’s the mark of masterful musicianship. Respect.
Beyond the originality point, Klaire and Sara bring their own combination of light and darkness to the songs on Monsters And Fireflies. The end result is a yin-yang effect, smooth alternations between happiness, joy, gritted teeth, and clenched fists. This is the kind of dynamic that takes time to cultivate.
Were Monsters And Fireflies a hacked together rush job fuelled by a pair of online celebrities’ insatiable need to feed their egos, there’s just no way Malumi’s music could back up statements like the ones above. Dark Queen’s bitter defiance is definitely this album’s highlight, but that does nothing to take away from the quality of Malumi’s other ten songs. Monsters And Fireflies is an album you can listen to all the way through; in fact, it’s so carefully woven together that you’ll find yourself practically compelled to do so.
Fans of Imogen Heap and Submotion Orchestra will find themselves captivated by the intro to Stars Fly, and from that point it feels like being swept away into a whole other world. Later on, contrast beautiful love songs In My Dreams and Unbelievable with the dramatically direct Dignity and the mournful ruminations of Tears In My Hair to witness Malumi’s yin-yang effect first-hand, before Won’t Say Anything’s emotional instability; Monsters And Fireflies’ folky balladry; and The Habit’s transformative positivity bring the whole thing to a close.
By that point, the points I’ve made so far should be clear-cut. Monsters And Fireflies is a masterfully crafted album, something to be rightfully proud of.
All these words may border on the evangelical – but TMMP’s inbox is constantly overflowing with new music from across the world. Having heard the results of countless musicians firing their efforts off into the digital ether, I can very safely say that Monsters And Fireflies is exceptional. There’s also one more thing to take away from the Malumi experience.
It’s a lot easier to tear something down than it is to build it from scratch – and Monsters And Fireflies is a perfect example of what can be achieved when two people put not just passion, talent, and energy into what they do, but also time. Beyond every snarky “guru-trashing” YouTube comment likely lies someone who probably could make something high-quality of their own, but is too busy convincing themselves that they can’t and attempting to drag the world into the depths instead. It’s sad, but true.
Overall: Monsters And Fireflies is an inspiring, common-sense-defying release. The world needs more albums made with Malumi’s attitude.
TMMP RATING: 93%
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Monsters And Fireflies drops March 21; pre-order it on iTunes here.