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Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Pop Lo-fi


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Monarcadia - "Don't, Don't" Album Review"

Beautifully orchestrated bedroom swells, soaring synths and heartfelt poetic lyricism create an evocative, entirely unique sentimental soundscape on Monarcadia’s first album.

Monarcadia is the artist moniker for multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, poet and producer Alaric López, a Las Vegas native currently situated in St. Louis, MO. He has recently put out a nine track album called “Don’t Don’t” available online for purchase/download at his Bandcamp or for streaming on Soundcloud. López has released one prior EP, “Penelope” under the same alias, two of the songs from which, “Neither Here Knordob” and “Penelope,” appear on the full length album.
It is important to note along with all other prefatory material that this review is necessarily biased. I know Alaric and we are good friends. The situations and context that conceived this album are things I was intimately entangled with. In a way, a lot of the pain expressed in this album I feel quite directly because I know its origins, the circumstances that would lead to the creation of this calculated yet equally raw piece of artistry.

I’m not plugging my friend just because he is my friend. I’m plugging him because he deserves it and he’s wicked talented. All of this is what I truthfully hear in the album. It is my attempt to be honest and open, biased but also detached – an attempt at what I consider real “sincerity” in music journalism. I’m not going to assign a number, I won’t do a ton of genre-fying or band comparison drudgery. However, I will do some paralleling out of commercial necessity. Music is a market and I want the name Monarcadia to be seen by those who hold sway in the industry, its as simple as that.

With all that said, I begin my musing:

“Don’t, Don’t” is easier to swallow than a breakup and easier to brave than a free fall, but not much on either account. This album is emotionally captivating in a way that leaves goosebumps on the skin every few minutes – the pain, ecstasy and loneliness pronounced in López’s words strike the listener at the same core level from which they resonate from. The record calls out from the echo-y bottoms of wishing wells yet serenades as it glides over trees and land. It is truly a dynamic record.

The lyrics on “Don’t, Don’t” are distinctly poetic, López shows his artistry not only as a musician but as a poet concerned with sincerity and proper verse. There are also references to a variety of literary voices and influences such as Keats, Shelley, Pound and Byron as well as the character “Dorian Grey”. López shows not only his sensitivities but also his intellect on this album, spinning threads of rhymes and verse in ways that morph and change with constant inclusion of clever, informed metaphors and proclamations, adding to the overall stunning quality of the work:

“You’re painted so carefree that you’re taunting,
too abstract expressionistic.
Modern Art stop looking at me that way
and tell me what follows death of beauty.”
Whenever I hear this line, I imagine Modern Art as a crooked old miser leering from the corner of an espresso bar, wholly unimpressed with the world and its long forgotten beauties. But I digress.

Let’s just talk about “Intro (My Layla)” for a second, the first track on the album. After hearing it roughly twenty times I have determined it has made the list of my favorite intro songs. The entire album begins with López’s signature voice droning over a warm organ synth, the entire album seeming to bristle and bubble into life. In the course of this short introduction, the vocals chant in subdued alto as well as soaring falsetto wails, all of unfettered longing, “My Layla” repeated with fervor and determination. The romantic addressee becomes clear during this song, and this figure remains the focus for the entirety of the album.

In a nutshell, this record is about the heartbreak associated with that figure, with the confusion of loving and needing to escape that sentimentalist image of the beloved. The moments in which López fleshes out his intellect are just as impressive as the moments in which he is most simplistic and plain. “Why do you want me?” he asks during “m-u-s-i-c-[space]“, a haunting and relatable question to anyone who has experienced anxiety and doubt within a romantic relationship. The synth line for this particular song I know was developed by its title, the letters of which correspond to notes on a QWERTY keyboard being played through Garageband. The entire song bumps along discussing reborn innocence, authority and solidarity, then reaches a point where all sonic coherency is manipulated, white noise flits and sputters over the outro like that of moths wings. This happens at many points throughout the album, the sound appears to fragment and break into churning pieces of sonic matter that muddle then finally reform to cast the listener along. These moments suggest to me the deconstructed nature of melancholy and confusion.

If you are looking for upbeat, catchy examples of glittery electropop that act as caveats to the more forward melancholy tracks on the album, look no further than previously released singles “Penelope” and “Neither Here Knordob.” Both tracks are heavily influenced by Hip Hop percussion and driving, undulating synths, López not sparing any lyrical brilliancy in the process: “I’d break the chrysalis and fill my wings with blood –“SWAG” in nacreous glamour– but culture says that nature’s had it wrong before.” Best served with a fine glass of sangria, plenty of cigarettes and a pinch of dancing feet.

There are two moments in which the album turns undeniably sobering and confessional, the sound of waves echo through companion tracks that sit on separate ends of the record. The first of these two is “D’fission Sea“, which may be one of the most instantaneously tear inducing song I’ve heard. The lyrics are sincere and unblushing, wrenched from a landscape of confused, penetrating love. López pleadingly sings “Paint this love and get it framed. Run away, run away, run away or I’ll never be the same.” The vocal harmonies that soar over the synthetic sounds of wind hit with such precision and clarity that its as if the listener is a sailor witnessing sunrise breaking over previously stormy waters every time it is heard. It’s beautiful and exactly like that so I suggest listening to it multiple times. “Telemachus” acts as the companion to this masterpiece, holding its own as a brilliant melancholic exploration of loneliness and escape.

In my opinion, if there is a hit song for college radios to bump around the country on this record, it can be found in “For Shade (My Lady)“. The groove of this song is immediate, dancey and driving, the chorus is a collection of catchy “oohs”, it contains lyrical delicacies such as “I stand with her burning sphere of light in hand, want to hurl it to the heavens, set the sable drapes ablaze,” and it contains excellent angular looped vocals that give it the effect of butterflies taking flight and whizzing by. I am confident in the way that this song remains fixed in my head that it will make many other heads nod and hips shake.

If I have to make a comparison in terms of genre, I’ll say that the final track on the album sounds like Panda Bear. However, even after saying that I still could find plenty of ways to disagree and suggest that “Don’t, Don’t (Pt.II)” is entirely unique in composition in sound. The entire song sounds as if it is being generated by a ball of glowing neon light, casting shadows of hatching flutterbies and vivid colors on the walls around it. In many of his songs López sounds exactly like this, like a massive source of energy/light contained within the walls of the bedroom, reaching to remove itself from confinement. This image makes Monarcadia’s wide eyed dreams and explorations seem more personal and spectacular.

Also, be sure to listen until the very end of the album.

The way I imagine summing up this album in imagery is picture as if you are flying through painted skies over torrential seas, desert dust and lush greenery, your heart hurts massively and you seek an escape that will stick. When I listen to Monarcadia I feel as if I have wings for true purposes – as means to witness and explore complexity, to feel the freedom of soaring, to escape what confines the soul. “Don’t”, Don’t” offers both the cocoon and the wings.

Monarcadia is currently in the process of relocating to Portland, OR, and is in the process of writing and recording a new album to be released next year.

}:¥:{ - Melody Made Music


Total discography can be found for download by donation at

  • Penelope - EP (February 2013)
  • Don't, Don't (September 2013)
  • Lunar Affair (February 2014)
  • Allegorically, Bedroom (June 2014)



The alias of poet and multi-instrumentalist Alaric Lopez, Monarcadia is a lo-fi music project in experimental psychedelic pop, which explores new modes of pop music by tinkering with form and length, and by addressing lyrical content not traditionally found in mainstream pop music. This music takes influence from jazz, hip-hop/trip-hop, chillwave, pop, sample-based music, electronic music, and psychedelic rock of the '60s. Inspired by Dana Levin's poem "Ars Poetica (cocoons)," the butterfly is Monarcadia's symbol, being a metaphor for an idea in the creative process.

Monarcadia is totally DIY: Alaric writes, performs, records, mixes, and masters all of the songs himself. Taking after the English Romantic poets, Alaric performs on stage solo, participating in the tradition of individual-as-authority, and using a sampler, synth, guitar w/pedals, and microphone to tackle the arrangements. His art is informed by a literary examination of music and aims to carve a space for music in the world of literature and challenge conventional notions of what constitutes pop.

Influences vary depending on Alaric’s current interests or musical exploration, but some permanent influences include John Frusciante, Animal Collective (solo records included), Washed Out, Grimes, Phantogram, Arthur Russell, Ariel Pink, Descendents, Kanye West’s production (and hip-hop in general from a production standpoint), Lana Del Rey, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Flow Child, Lady Gaga, Jefferson Airplane, Nujabes, Doldrums, and Cat Power. 


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