Overall Rating: ++++-
The latest band with atmospheric and melodic tendencies deserving of an ear from the discerning listener is Monarch. From Pittsburgh, the band recently signed to Northern Records where they have released their debut album. The band members are still in college, but one listen is all it takes to understand that good music transcends age.
A description of the band's music isn't the easiest thing to pull off. Piano and guitar are the guiding instruments, but it's not too rare to find an orchestral arrangement in the mix as well. All of this is done with a firm grasp of pop sensibilities that lend a few of the album's songs to radio airplay if they get into the right hands. The place in me that became so firmly attached to Sleeping at Last is the same place that enjoys Monarch every time I put the CD in.
The album is a nice mix of softer songs and more upbeat melodies. There are no bad moments to be found here. "Turn Around" is the radio single waiting to happen (of course, the way the cruel world of radio works, I'm not expecting it to happen). The piano, synthesizer, and grooving beat lend themselves perfectly to the passionately sung words, "I try to see through you, and I try to look through you / But I'm looking all around (for too long) / I kept you a secret from the first day that we met / I was looking all around for too long." The album highlight in my mind is "Tracing Paper (An Argument)," an eight minute epic full of the kind of honesty that it takes to save a relationship: "Now hold on. Hold on. Weren't you speaking first? Hold on. My turn. Maybe. Sorry. Now what am I worth?"
For those who can't get enough of Coldplay, Ester Drang, Sleeping at Last, or even Copeland, here is your latest chance at musical fulfillment: Monarch.
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