O Monolith (Warp Records)

Contact Jessica Linker, Ahmad Asani about Squid

Leading into the June 9th release of Squid’s sophomore album, O Monolith, via Warp, the UK act release new single, “The Blades,” accompanied by a video directed by Kasper Häggström (Radiohead, Kelly Lee Owens, Lindstrøm) starring rising British actress Charlotte Ritchie (You, Fresh Meat, Ghosts).


Similarly to Squid, Häggström’s work blurs the lines between high-concept philosophies and the humdrum of domesticity. His video for “The Blades” sees its protagonist, played by Ritchie, locked in a Kafka-esque nightmare as she sits ludicrously at the back of an imaginary queue in an empty waiting room due to a mischievous child’s prank. The passage of time and cruel absurdity of the situation triggers an out of body experience and release before returning to her Sisyphean plight.


“The Blades” presents the dynamic range of singer Ollie Judge’s vocal delivery, a marked change across O Monolith. Judge credits it as his favorite Squid song thus far. “It’s a lot more vulnerable than stuff we’ve previously done, which can be quite a daunting thing. Dan [Carey] and I were talking about vocal delivery and how it would be good to not completely let myself go, and not fall back on shouting because it’s more instantly gratifying. The end of the song is really soft and tender and I don’t think we’ve done something like that before,” comments Judge. “On the surface it’s a song about police brutality with the last section kind of inspired by The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, although I’ve never read the book, I’ve just seen The Simpsons’ spoof of it. Narratively it follows a police helicopter pilot’s day, ending with him in bed hearing another pilot circling the skies as if he were taunting him. There’s a deeper meaning in there somewhere of my fear of ego, but I’m still working out which bit of the song that’s coming from.”


Produced by Dan Carey, mixed by John McEntire (Tortoise) and recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, O Monolith tackles themes and issues such as environmental peril, morality and English folklore. It is expansive, evocative and hugely varied, retaining Squid’s restless, enigmatic spirit, and a reflection of the outsized progression of a band always looking to the future. “We’re quite a musically stubborn band, and in an endearing way it’s a stubborn record,” says Judge. Like its namesake, O Monolith is vast and strange; alive with endless possible interpretations. For a deeper dive into the story behind O Monolith, head over to The Quietus.


Squid have recently announced an early 2024 North American headline tour and a series of intimate shows partnering with record shops in the UK around the release of O Monolith. Full dates are listed below and tickets are on sale now.