Review Summary: Moneen grow up… And fans are unlikely to be happy.
While not unheard of, making an EP available just three months prior to the release of a new album is not exactly common practice. One cannot help but get the feeling that such a move has an underlying reason behind it, and in the case of Canadian quartet Moneen (technically .moneen.), that reason is to soften the blow for its loyal fans. What’s the blow we are talking about here? It is the evolution of maturing… Or put simpler; growing up!
The June-released ‘Hold That Sound’ EP hinted at a more straight-forward (dare I use the word “mainstream”) sound from the band, and ‘The World I Want To Leave Behind’ essentially follows through on the new direction. Predominantly gone are the whiney vocals, experimental song structures and tempo-switching for which Moneen has become known for. In their place are smooth melodies and soaring harmonies that could very well expose the band to a larger audience. See immediate cuts such as ‘Hold That Sound’ and ‘Great Escape’ as perfect examples, the latter of which may not be the same song which Boys Like Girls recorded three years ago, but could easily be a track from the Boston pop-punkers due to its contagiously nature.
Also carried over from the EP are ballads ‘The Way’ and ‘’Waterfalls’, both of which have been given an effective infusion of strings. The real surprise however - and what will be a disappointment to many fans - is the over-abundance of not too dissimilar slower to mid-tempo cuts that populate the remainder of the LP. In isolation, nothing is at all bad and each track is solid enough, yet as a grouping they are unremarkable and largely fade off into the background. This is a fact that is not helped by the recurring lyrical theme of self-belief, which tends to reduce the effectiveness of each subsequent piece.
There are a few signs that the more unpredictable side of Moneen is lurking in the background waiting to be unleashed. The incomplete sounding ‘The Monument’ has an exciting and recitable chorus, ‘Lighters’ builds up well, while ‘The Long Count’ contains some suitable guitar histrionics. However, nothing seems to hit the mark perfectly until the very end of the album. Thankfully, six minute closer ‘The Glasshouse’, best represents what the band may, or at least should, have been aiming for. Containing dual vocals and a melodic sing-along, its combination of Moneen’s raucous rockier past and calming new sound sends the album off on a high note that will hopefully bode well for the future.
With ‘The World I Want To Leave Behind’, Moneen have grown up and taken a turn towards a more mainstream sound. The concern has to be whether they have turned too far and become just another run-of-the-mill radio rock outfit. Since it could be argued that there was a significant maturation process that occurred on previous LP ‘The Red Tree’, one would have to suggest the shift has indeed been too dramatic. That does not necessarily make ‘The World I Want To Leave Behind’ a sub-par album, just one which is unlikely to win too many new devotees and could disappoint their current fanbase.
Recommended Tracks: Hold That Sound, The Glasshouse & The Way.