MONA – S/T
With a trio of singles highlighting them as the most interesting act to emerge from the BBC’s Sound of 2011 list, this debut album from Nashville alt-rock quartet MONA goes a long way to delivering on their early promise, although a late-album lull means that this isn’t quite the sensational introduction many were bargaining for.
As atmospheric opener ‘Cloak and Dagger’ gives way to the impossibly infectious singles ‘Listen To Your Love’ and the thrillingly direct ‘Teenager’, it’s a pretty accurate indicator of what’s to come: huge, catchy guitar pop songs with a leaning towards domineering, room-filling layers of overdriven guitar work. ‘Lines in the Sand’ is a more contemplative offering, with a chorus vocal from frontman Nick Brown that’s delivered so passionately, it veers dangerously close to over-wrought.
The only instance where MONA really lapses is in its second half, where the comparatively leaden-footed ‘Say You Will’ and ‘Shooting the Moon’ are left side-by-side, meaning that the momentum falters – probably a little too much for such a brief album – before the inch-perfect radio-rock of ‘Pavement’ and explosive single ‘Trouble on the Way’ ensure the record stages a dramatic full recovery.
Anyone who’s shown an interest in MONA’s singles should find plenty to enjoy here, and there’s enough dexterity here to win over some neutrals too. What they do next is of critical importance, but in the meantime, this is a debut that confirms their status as a name to watch, even if it only justifies the hype by the skin of its teeth.MONA - S/T,