Review Summary: Ima Robot's second album doesnt quite hit the high standard set with their debut album but it makes a notable attempt and doesn’t fall too short. It sees the band trying some new things with their sound and has given us some of the bands best tracks
When front man Alex Ebert is heard yelling “hello? HELLO?” distantly as the CD opens with “Disconnect” you know to be ready for more clever jokes and uncomfortable topics in Ima Robots second album “Monument to the Masses”. Ima Robot birthed a small following after releasing their debut self titled album in 2003, and now after 3 years of waiting, we finally have the follow-up album. They set the bar very high with their first outing with the clever mixture of dance beats, punk, and a bombastic new wave sound. This new CD doesn’t strive too much from the winning formula, and in some ways, the band has definitely improved.
The CD features some of the most hip-hop influenced songs of the bands career with tracks such as “Cool Cool Universe” using some cool (cool?) drum and bass beats over Alex's more mature lyrics “every time they tell me to vote/ man I lose my hope/ who could represent me – now that’s a joke”. Of course for the chorus we hear the band in full danceable force.
Cool Cool Universe is definitely a stand out track on the album, but if you’re looking for the best cut off this album, look no further then “Happy Annie”. This track starts off with some simple electronic drumbeats, but soon brings out a killer bass line along with very little guitar. The song is one of the more serious songs on the album, and from the beginning catches a sort of darker mood to it with lyrics about the pain and growth of “Happy Annie” The song does an amazing job of building to the coolest sounding breakdown of the album. The breakdown features some catchy la la la’s over some creepy lyrics about “people for sale”. It’s the coolest thing this band has produced since the catchy cool bass riff from the secret track of the first album: “Black Jettas”.
Some other standout tracks include previously mentioned “Disconnect” which, while addictingly catchy, offers some great synth-happy riffs that really kick off the album well and “Stick it to the Man” which sounds the most like the crazy out of control Ima Robot we’ve come to love from the first album.
One of my personal favorite parts of Ima Robots sound is Alex’s unmistakable voice reminiscent of Dead Kennedys
singer Jello Biafra. You know, the kind of voice that sounds like a spastic over-enthusiastic announcer. “Stick it to the Man” shows off Alex’s pipes in this unique way through a couple cool parts where he yells out “Don’t touch that dial!” and “Well thanks for tuning in people! This has been another Youra Robot production” this track remains my second favorite song on the album.
The band tones it down considerably on 2 tracks; “Chip Off the Block” and “Lovers in Captivity” for more piano driven ballads. It’s a nice change from the constant barrage of dance-pop-new wave-punk that seems to have defined Ima Robots style. Unfortunately it becomes clear this band produces its best work when they whip out the electronic drum set and synths as neither tracks really pop out as being all too great.
In case you’re looking for another decade to influence this band other then the obvious 80’s new wave influence, then turn your dial to “Eskimo Ride” which has “whip out your bellbottoms and hit the dance floor under the disco ball” written all over it. It ends up being a pretty decent song, and I especially like the guitar work on this track.
Overall, a great second album from Ima Robot. some new ideas have started to be implemented into their sound which has me excited to hear more music from this band in the future.
I Recommend: Happy Annie, Stick it to the Man, Disconnect, and Cool Cool Universe