Moneen – [Album]

Monday, 14 December 2009

Those moments when a band realizes its potential are the ones that seem to make everything worthwhile aren't they? When a band first gets noticed, it's usually for a reason – be it because of talent or timing – but every fan knows (or hopes) that, one day, the dings and imperfections in that early sound will get hammered out. After that, the band will eventually achieve a sort of serene moment where they produce music that speaks to those established fans, but also to everyone else as well; it might not be their favorite thing, but they can feel it.

Fans wait for that moment and bands work toward it and when it does happen, the result is a universally validating experience; the hope and belief that fans placed in the band is redeemed, and the band has the chance to take on a classic status from that point forward – the songs continue to exert an influence on other musicians, even years later.

Ten years, four EPs and now four full-length albums in, Moneen has reached that charmed moment on The World I Want To Leave Behind.

From the opening washes of the title track, listeners know they're in for something special as, with dreamy, poppy, pristine and crystalline ease, guitarist Chris “Hippy” Hughes casts a beautiful, looming shadow over (an incredibly true-toned) singer Kenny Bridges, drummer Steve Nunnaro and bassist Erik Hughes. It's like the first breeze of a downpour blowing in – not wet or treacherous yet, but listeners get the feeling like it might be a good time to run for cover – and, for a minute, it smells sweet and calm and beautiful; the genuine calm before the storm.

…And then, from the opening flash of “Hold That Sound,” The World I Want To Leave Behind hits and listeners are swept away in a current unlike anything Moneen has ever generated before.

On listening, some fans and detractors will claim  that Moneen has lightened up as the band's distortion pedals get turned down on more tracks than they don't, Bridges sings a little prettier than he ever has before and the proceedings as a whole mark a lighter touch than the approaches that the band took for records like The Red Tree and The Theory Of Harmonial Value, but that's not exactly the case. A better way to look at it is that the focus on The World I Want To Leave Behind has shifted; where once Moneen would turn up the volume to build momentum and scream off all doubts, songs like “Believe,” “The Long Count” and “The Way” all find a cathartic center that's more heart than hurt. Each of the songs on the album take a surprisingly warm stance (even if Bridges feels wronged somehow, as is the case on “Hold That Sound” and “The Long Count”) no matter the emotional tack the songs take which makes it possible for the band to invert the instrumental approach at will (from aggressive textural bombast to acoustic confessional) and still seem focused on one intent rather than coming off as scattered or stylistically adrift. That focus proves to be still another surprise too; while Moneen has always relied on a series of motifs that get developed fresh and new for each record but have a propensity to reoccur intermittently, on this album each of this dozen songs adeptly seals in the ideas presented in such a way that there is no bleed between songs. They work together to convey a solid, singular image; in this case, the band doesn't drag hooks from song to song to knit them together, the songs simply work together and present a single image with several approaches to it. Because of these things, The World I Want To Leave Behind represents a very important step in the evolution of Moneen: they're not lightening up on this album, they're growing up and letting craft drive over cliché and taking risks and playing them out (in this case, successfully) over adhering to a generic safety zone. The second edge on the sword to Moneen further developing their style here is that, because they have changed, it will alienate some older, once loyal fans but, as the band leaves one world behind they're entering a whole new one with a score of new ears and hearts to win and this album is certainly strong enough to do that.



Moneen – “Hold That Sound” – The World I Want To LeaveBehind

Moneen – “Waterfalls” – The World I Want To Leave Behind

Further Reading:
Ground Control interview with Kenny Bridges while on tour in support of The World I Want To Leave Behind.
Ground Control pre-release interview with Kenny Bridges.

The World I Want To Leave Behind
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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