“Lethargy — a lack of energy and enthusiasm; a pathological state of sleepiness or deep unresponsiveness and inactivity.”
I would imagine that this would resonate with nearly anyone in the world, even Roda from M.O.N.T. it seems. With that being said, some have viewed recent events as a well-deserved but mandatory downshift in daily life, to recharge or reinvent oneself. The M.O.N.T. trio have recently released a dual title track single, Aqua Tape, that validates both of these sentiments.
The song “Lethargy” was the first track released and sounds just like the title itself. The tempo is impossibly slow, the harmonies bleed into each other, and the MV is filled with both relaxation and a wealth of junk food snackage. The weird oversynthesized slide guitar melts into each verse and chorus with a persistent rhythmic pattern throughout. Roda, who wrote and produced the song himself, expresses a desire to just be alone lacking the energy to work, speak, or even socialize.
In a way, this song screams “lofi hip hop beats to study/relax to” vibes — lowkey, feel-good, and relaxing. The song sounds like lethargy sonically. The use of a small pool of simple synthesizer sounds and smeared guitar obscure the harmonies created between the music and the rapping, making the sound ebb and flow, and the lyrics are the icing on the cake. Witty and fun, they make the song more memorable and cohesive. Some favorites of mine are “I’m busy tomorrow too, so don’t make an appointment” and “the sky is blue but in my eyes it looks yellow.”
The MV feels like a weird colorful acid dream with junk food, vintage appliances, and shots of Roda just staring into space while Narachan and Bitsaeon attempt to socialize with him. The overexposed colors and cleverly placed Reese’s Puffs are comical and relatable. I find it interesting that the props and snacks are mostly American imports (Reese’s Puffs, Cheese Balls, Cheetos, etc.).
Rather than just demonstrating a lethargic young adult having another meal of sugary cereal, M.O.N.T. are deliberately eliciting imagery associated with weed heads and hippy vibes, both of which are more socially acceptable in most cases outside of South Korea. It is referential at best, but gets the point across in hammering home the idea of lethargy, drug/alcoholic induced or not.
A complete 180 from “Lethargy” is the second track “Boom Bang.” The same bright, colorful setting is present, but with a more upbeat, youthful message. The whole trio is a flurry of activity from mixing drinks, swimming in a weird indoor pool, and dancing around joyfully. This is the complete opposite of Roda’s “Lethargy,” almost like a continuation of the story, but after Bitsaeon and Narachan manage to break through his sloth-like disposition.
From the onset, the tight, short guitar licks and more elaborate drum set patterns make the song sound hyperactive and exciting. Lyrics reference “surfin’ in the waves,” “champagne,” and “it’s your break day.” I appreciate that the setting is the same, but with all members basically just having a party. This visual presentation creates a stark contrast from the lethargy of before and highlights the importance of perspective.
As opposed to focusing on the negatives of being stuck inside, “Boom Bang” focuses on the opportunities for fun staycations even at home, and the cartoonish words that pop up in sync with the lyrics are a nice, fun touch. Overall, “Boom Bang” is more of your standard summer pop song about surfing, partying, and wishing for the work day to end. However, because of its contrast with “Lethargy,” the accompanying music and video is especially effective.
Through both tracks, Aqua Tape encapsulates the possibilities associated with summer, partying and fun, or lonely and sluggish dormancy. Honestly, I deeply appreciated the clear contrast exhibited just between two tracks. A lot of summer releases often focus on one aspect of summer — happiness, love, sex, or sloth-like indifference to the world. However, Aqua Tape is a bird’s eye look at the world experiencing summer as per usual in all its possibilities, alcoholic frivolity and all.