Animal Scream is a Pittsburgh duo founded by CHAD MONTICUE, (Producer, singer, multi-instrumentalist), & JOSH SICKELS, (Producer, drums, percussion). The band combines sound design with a psych-pop psychedelia that’s dark and cinematic, a noir-tinted sound in thrall to the eternal groove.
On the duo’s second album, Heartbroke Motel, Monticue and Sickels draw on influences as varied as David Lynch, MF DOOM, and ’60s reggae, and carve out nocturnal soundscapes for the alienated and brokenhearted. Heartbroke Motel builds on Nightwalk’s simmering noir textures, and manages to push Animal Scream to new stylistic extremes. “Wicked Jungle,” with its disembodied traces of a vocal hook, is not like anything these musicians have done before: one half scuzzy industrial groove, one half Kid A-style deconstruction.
“The Beast with Two Backs,” meanwhile, is a foreboding, two-part instrumental—redolent of the duo’s love of woozy film scores—with a title that references Shakespeare by way of MF DOOM. Or witness the galloping intensity of “Strangled Up in Two,” a high-octane scorcher whose lyrics take inspiration from The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber’s 2014 novel about a missionary on an alien planet.
Such unorthodox inspiration sources are de rigueur for these songwriters—the more nightmarish the better. Yet the supernatural dimension of Animal Scream’s music never belies the emotional core underneath.