Autre Monde: Sensitive Assignments - An inventive, masterful record of heady avant-garde pop

The four-piece’s vision remains unbowed on a work that is operatic in scope

Sensitive Assignments
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Artist: Autre Monde
Label: Popical Island

Life can be about timing, and when Autre Monde released debut The Imaginary Museum in spring 2020, it coincided with much of the world closing its doors. Three years on, we are, in some ways changed, but Autre Monde’s vision remains unbowed. The band, comprised of Paddy Hanna, Padraig Cooney, Mark Chester and Eoghan O’Brien share a sensibility that took them back into collaborative sessions in their rehearsal room, forming the heady affair that is Sensitive Assignments.

The gorgeous opening song, Don’t Have Brain, is a joy, with its jaunty, sensuous percussion, elegant piano, and moody yearning vocals. Pity for Upright Man, a love-letter for Burkina Faso’s late leader Thomas Sankara is a slinky, choral influenced piece, with flecks of The Velvet Underground, and lovely trumpet. Strictly Come Dancing puts a synth through a 1980s wringer, beaming in the ghost of Robert Palmer, and It Likes it Very Much to Be Pleasant, with its tinny drums, resembles an alternative soundtrack to a Bagpuss-Tales of the Unexpected hybrid.

The sad wistfulness of Blue Yodel ‘21 – with its swirling, ambient wash is leavening, and the “Franciscan protest song” that is Here Now, Birdie, Birdie is high-level pop-avant-garde, deftly framing Road to Domestos, an existential ballad of the kitchen sink. Sensitive Assignment, Parts 1 to 4 is operatic in scope, bringing in some doomy prog before releasing us, gingerly, back into the arms of tender guitar. An inventive, masterful record.

Siobhán Kane

Siobhán Kane is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture