TOKiMONSTA’s latest, Midnight Menu, is hangover music; best played in your car as you drive down the highway at ten in the morning, well aware you’ve probably got enough alcohol in your blood from the night before to still blow over the limit. If you awake with an aching head, blurred vision, bubbled gut and malted breath, this music wouldn’t make the morning any worse. It’s not that the music is quiet, it does incorporate the standard drums and bass of the instrumental/electronic/dance genre it belongs to. Rather, the music is bland enough to just ramble on in the background. When you’re in the grips of a sanity-scoffing hangover, you can’t give anything much attention. That’s why Midnight Menu is hangover music – it demands very little from the listener. It’s the sonic equivalent of giving a piece of plain white toast to a person who has spent the morning throwing up.
TOKiMONSTA’s is a DJ from Los Angeles who tours the world playing clubs and trying to keep parties going. While she borrows hip-hop breaks, and has produced various hip-hop remixes during her career, this is more club music than rap. If you expect the thick layering of Madlib, or the dynamic shifts of Edan, you will be disappointed. But if you were thought that elevator music should borrow from house music and instrumental club songs, you might enjoy this. Melodies swell and subside augmented by electronic beeps, blips and chimes. The tempo across the 50-minute album stays relatively consistent. The brisk pace and similar vibes keep the disc from getting bogged down (save the absurdly repetitive “Cheese Smoothie”) but also means you will have difficulty separating stretches of the music. The melodies on standout “Sweet Day” and “Madness” show a focus that the other tracks would benefit from. Some of the songs are overwhelmed with robotic sound effects or give way to uncreative drum patterns, but most just saunter on without offering the listener anything interesting to grasp hold of.
These criticisms shouldn’t be taken to mean it’s a bad album. If you heard it in a club you would probably keep dancing, but you would never ask the DJ spinning what the song was. And with so much exciting music people don’t get a chance to listen to, such a bland offering is hard to justify. If you need noise in the background to soak up the silence, TOKiMONSTA would be an acceptable choice, but it won’t do much more than that.