And once again I find myself having to defend Momus in the court of public opinion. He just released a new album, Athenian, at the end of April, and I’m sad to say he’s making this task harder than ever. What are you doing, man? What’s the endgame here? You have an avid underground following, but you aren’t going to be making any big changes here. I feel like at some point someone had to have told you.
For those who don’t know, Momus is a poet, and a man out of time. His style has primarily been defined by his provocative lyrics and creepy and unique instrumentation. Since the 1980s, he’s been in the music game, playing the Shakespearean fool, pointing and laughing at mankind while planting himself firmly above them. And it worked. John Cooper Clarke is said to be the “punk rock poet,” but I think that title belongs to Momus--and not just because he is infinitely more talented than Clarke on a poetic level, but also because his songs were far more punk than they appeared. His statements were salacious and uncomfortable, especially on albums like Don’t Stop the Night--which covered every taboo from incest to necrophilia--and Hippopotamomus, which retained a lot of that material, but was done in the pastiche of a children’s album. He was like a Shel Silverstein you’d not want anywhere near your kids.
He has garnered his share of controversy for these lyrics as well, and one particularly insensitive song left him bankrupt, which brought about Stars Forever, an album made to pay off his debts, auctioning songs off for 1000 dollars a pop. The result is one of his finest works, and in and of itself is a powerful punk statement on the commercialism of art (or perhaps just a commercialism of art. Who can say anymore?) But Momus’ M.O. has always been positioning himself outside of the mainstream and going for the jugular of anyone in it. But now, with a pandemic and tensions everywhere at an all-time high… Athenian is the last thing we need.