Tones and I
Welcome to the Madhouse


0.5

Review

by Sowing STAFF
July 20th, 2021 | 273 replies


Release Date: 07/16/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is the worst.

I’ve been writing about music for a long time now. I’ve seen brilliant peaks and demoralizing lows when it comes to the quality of what modern artists are releasing for public consumption. I’m also a glass-half-full sort of critic, so even when an artist is releasing what I deem to be the lowest common denominator of commercial music, it’s usually my goal to pinpoint something – anything – of perceived strength and offer a path forward. For example, I’ve recently pegged Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, and Train as some of the most tepid and inoffensive bands on the face of the planet. Their unimaginative approach and sales-oriented mindset is enough to turn off anyone in search of interesting, meaningful music. With that said, there is little doubt that each of these bands do at least one thing well, even if it’s as simple as possessing vocal talent that goes to waste. No such silver lining exists for Australian overnight music sensation Toni Watson – or “Tones and I” – and her debut, Welcome to the Madhouse.

If I were as nice as I claim to be, I’d stop here. Unfortunately, Welcome to the Madhouse is so potently, bafflingly, and unusually bad – not to mention unnecessarily showy – that it begs some semblance of an analysis. For example, the title is suggestive of a spooky concept album, but Welcome to the Madhouse isn’t remotely close to being either of those things. It’s a stylistically disjointed, lyrically vapid pop record that covers absolutely nothing “dark” while randomly darting between the worst millennial pop tropes, rhythmically challenged hip-hop, and laughable attempts at integrating reggae and jazz. It sounds like a thinly-veiled attempt to cover the widest possible demographic, only minus the actual effort that goes into understanding those listeners or adapting said approaches to her “skill set”, which I’m convinced there is none. Speaking of which, Toni Watson’s vocals are downright abysmal: they’re ridiculously nasal and all over the place in terms of pitch. It’s akin to listening to a pre-teen child singing karaoke over a Train/ Maroon 5/Imagine Dragons mash-up, only the production is terrible to boot.

Perhaps the worst aspect of Welcome to the Madhouse is that it doesn’t even steer into the joke. Oblivious to how ear-gratingly awful this actually is, Watson wails about a garden variety of mundane, everyday issues that affect just about every human being in existence. Instead of attempting to make it relatable to us though – even on a paper-thin surface level – Toni plays it off like Billie Eilish-lite, drumming up the idea that she’s socially divergent even though every single aspect of Welcome to the Madhouse is ridden with the very cliches that any "outsider" would be repulsed by. It’s talentless, attention-seeking music that is desperate to frame Toni as this fringe deviant who, with just a little love, could be pulled back into the circle and “saved.” It’s embarrassing.

I’d go into song-by-song details, but it’s not worth anyone’s time. Instead, I find it prudent to focus on how we got to this point. For those unfamiliar with Tones and I’s history, her career was launched via the success of 2019’s viral single ‘Dance Monkey’, which was like the spiritual/intellectual successor to Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ only somehow, mercilessly, even worse. Welcome to the Madhouse is that obligatory follow-up album where a label tries to seize the artist’s momentum to make a quick buck, usually fully aware that they are a flash-in-the-pan. All fourteen songs on this LP are among the worst twenty-or-so songs I’ve heard in my life, so Elektra Records failed to perform their only duty, which was to provide some checks and balances while helping Toni to curate a palatable set of tracks which might extend her career by a few precious years. Instead, they allowed Tones and I to run wild while succumbing to one hilarious pitfall after another. It’s a comedy of errors from top to bottom which leaves Watson with nowhere to go and nothing to build upon.

Welcome to the Madhouse is truly the worst. It’s hard to even make jokes about because it’s so bad that I just want to call my mom and tell her I love her. It’s destroyed the eternal optimist in me. This is everything I hate about music rolled up into one hackneyed, pandering, faux-defiant, poorly produced, gratingly sung, lyrically immature sack of incontrovertible dog shit.



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user ratings (55)
1.2
awful


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
July 20th 2021


39044 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5 | Sound Off

Idk someone screen-shot that average rating I guess.

Digging: Other Lives - For Their Love

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2021


58121 Comments


When I was in Ireland, Dance Monkey was number one on the charts and I had to hear it everywhere and it almost ruined my vacation

Digging: Radwimps - Your Name.

Colton
July 20th 2021


12161 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

when I was in grade 11 there was this girl who ate an edible in chemistry class and was bragging about it and then she ended up throwing up in the cafeteria garbage can at lunch. last year she posted her spotify wrapped and Dance Monkey was her most played song of the year

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2021


1291 Comments


her voice is cancer

Colton
July 20th 2021


12161 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

never really understood the vitriol for Dance Monkey in particular though, there are far worse overplayed radio hits. like remember that “once I was 7 years old” song that was popular around the same time? I’ll take Dance Monkey over that any day

bloc
July 20th 2021


66542 Comments


Deftones really changed things up this time

Digging: Turnstile - Glow On

eureka
July 20th 2021


24 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

for posterity: https://imgur.com/a/EQOQxXR



There are few things I regret looking up on the Internet more than "Dance Monkey"

Sowing
Moderator
July 20th 2021


39044 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5 | Sound Off

Dance Monkey is awful, but it's still better than anything here

I do not understand how anyone could like this, even if I try

tom79
July 20th 2021


3825 Comments


"never really understood the vitriol for Dance Monkey in particular though, there are far worse overplayed radio hits."

for real. That song was everywhere for a bit and I weirdly dug it/didn't hate it every time. Didn't need a review to tell me not seek out the album though lol.

LeddSledd
July 20th 2021


5977 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

her voice makes Seiko Oomori sound like Aretha Franklin



worst pop artist alive

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2021


58121 Comments


idk I think dance monkey is top 10 worst songs ever

collynas441
July 20th 2021


1 Comments


Tones & I plans to quit music.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-9805219/Tones-announces-plans-QUIT-music.html

LeddSledd
July 20th 2021


5977 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

best news i heard all week

Sowing
Moderator
July 20th 2021


39044 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5 | Sound Off

I wonder if she's quitting because of the terrible reception this is getting across the board

Colton
July 20th 2021


12161 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

that article is actually really sad I feel bad for her. she seems to already be in a bad place so I’m sure all the hate isn’t helping. but a bad album is a bad album, what are you gonna do

Sowing
Moderator
July 20th 2021


39044 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5 | Sound Off

Yeah I just read the full thing and it sucks

I'm not unsympathetic to her struggle but I do think she'll be much happier songwriting. She just doesn't have the voice to be a pop musician. It's a shame that she'll think it's because of her appearance, though.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2021


15110 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

Oh you did indeed do the thing.



Metacritic, you’re welcome.

DDDeftoneDDD
July 20th 2021


18434 Comments


Mission acomplished?

Digging: Sleigh Bells - Texis

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2021


15110 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

I don’t know about a mission, but sometimes a dude just needs to vent. And if an album is a .5 out of 5 then it’s basically audio torture.

Sowing
Moderator
July 20th 2021


39044 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5 | Sound Off

Fantano gave it a light 0 so there were still folks out there who tore into this harder than I did



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