You can cry if it’s your party, but what about when you’re just the guest? Benjamin Shaw encourages you to embrace reclusivity. He’s a musician with many facets, and on his new album, Megadead, he puts his left-field gloom to work. As part of the DIY, bedroom producer scene, Shaw’s biggest statements come from the haphazard structure and varying tonal quality. The new album meanders with a purposeful cynicism.

Shrouded in glimmering tones, Shaw’s soft-spoken vocals are ferried along to…anywhere but here. His isn’t the first voice you hear after you press play on Megadead, though; peppered throughout are clips from a stock voice that sounds like it was originally recorded in the 1960’s. This ghost’s voice introduces the scene at a party, drawing attention to our protagonist who sits alone. On the next track, the first lyrics from Shaw come directly after a mechanical mantra that claims to be having a wonderful time—it is the best anti-social advice anyone could need: “It’s okay to go home.”

Put plainly, much of the record is sad. One track’s title is a combination of the words “melanoma,” also known as skin cancer, and “mates.” (The term is not widely used, but a cursory search discovered the portmanteau has appeared in reference to peers that share the condition.) 'This is Stupid.' is bolstered by arcade noises in the background, highlighting the triviality of the largest industry in the entertainment field: video games. And nothing can top Shaw’s declaration that just about everything is the worst on 'Terrible Feelings'.

Yet, even with all that, there is an unshakeable determination embedded in Megadead. Bracing for the end, “Brand New Day” uplifts, despite unsettling interjections of feedback. The ending of 'Melanomates' is a ray of light, poking through the fibers of the pillow we’ve used to bury our face. A minute later, Shaw tells us to “turn that frown upside down.” It’s not all bad!

The emotional trajectory of Megadead can leave one in a tailspin, but perhaps this is for the best. Otherwise, its melancholy could become fatal.