Monograms, Downer (released 2/2016)
Monograms is a band of their time and place. On Downer, they give classic guitar-driven indie rock a mild darkwave once-over, like Dinosaur Jr. covering “Just Like Heaven,” and it’s every bit as fun, unique, and satisfying. The second track “Wasted Youth” is a case-in-point: it revolves around that low-lying drum-beat/bass-line combo that makes “Gigantic” by The Pixies a head-bobber (and “Trying” by Bully a total rager), then builds to a ripping climax.
“Something” is the highlight for me, for reasons I’ll make very clear: I’m a sucker for a doo-wop ‘50s drum beat like the one in the chorus, I’m a sucker for a melodic J Mascis guitar solo like the one after the chorus, I’m a sucker for a verse that includes a build in intensity in its second half, I’m a sucker for a droning guitar over a disco beat like in the bridge. And then a little more guitar sparkle to top it off? Sold.
After the full tilt of the first three tracks, “Mother Diamonds” and “Cavalry Trader” display some range on the back end of the EP. We haven’t heard anything so angular as the stuttering beat at the beginning of “Mother Diamonds,” and this was the right place to put it. The largely bass-driven “Cavalry Trader” sprawls out a bit: a great desert rock closer that suggests Monograms has plenty of ideas left for the next installment.
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