It has always felt that Tom Odell has been running away from the commercial success he has built for himself. While his first two collections 'Long Way Down' and 'Wrong Crowd' found him topping album charts around the world, he has since been someone looking to separate himself from the conventional and plainer sides of the mainstream. We had a strong glimpse of this desire to move on with his 2018 LP 'Jubilee Road', and after another few years, he is looking to show his true colours once again on his fourth full-length 'monsters', a record sees him try to move ahead of the curve once again.
While he has obviously reached that point in his career where he can release pretty much whatever he wants and be guaranteed an audience, 'monsters' is possibly his hardest studio album to fall in love with immediately. While the songwriting and emotion he has always delivered remains a strong part of this new collection, he regularly experiments with the production and direction, creating this diverse but something difficult to understand intention. The album feels more like a broad sweep of ideas, some of which have yet to be properly fleshed out, and results in something distinctly unusual but not always hitting the mark.
We heard on 'Jubilee Road' that he had found himself beginning a new musical evolution, but this next step feels either rushed or lacking conviction in places. There are some wildly fascinating examples of brilliance on here, but 'monsters' feels like a smorgasbord of bold and shimmering aesthetics rather than a focused and concise collection.