Review Summary: Even though it's a pleasant post rock listen, it's fair to say that Mono are capable of so much more as evidenced by previous releases.The Last Dawn
is the first disc of Mono’s recent double LP. What it really comes down to is that this first disc shows itself as Mono being Mono. It’s nothing particularly impressive or groundbreaking and they unfortunately don’t utilize any new methods in their music. Though not completely gone, it lacks the certain sincere emotion and truly powerful buildups of You Are There
and most importantly, Hymn to the Immortal Wind
. However, what it lacks it does make up for in its execution. Mono’s recent post rock entry is a been there done that affair, but an enjoyable one at that. The band’s beautiful string arrangements and thoughtful climaxes still remain intact, making for a pleasant experience for experienced post rock listeners. Unfortunately, it definitely won’t bring any new fans to the table.
Essentially, the band’s biggest problems prove to be their derivative nature and unusual lack of textures in this release. With The Last Dawn
, they tend to utilize the genre’s trademark tremolo picking to death. Album opener “The Land Between Tides/Glory” features one of the band’s longest buildups. It doesn’t do the song justice for this to be quite uneventful either. It’s a slow burning rise with subtle ambiance, gentle guitars and strings laying down the terrain in the background. This is all aspects of Mono’s music that they’ve done before so this reveals itself as nothing new. The gritty climax of harsh guitars, epic drums and lush piano that closes out the song is no different. Granted, those with patience can find some appreciation out of this because it’s truly nothing bad. However, there’s definitely a sense that the powerful textures and heartfelt guitar tones of Hymn to the Immortal Wind
are in short supply.
As the album treads onward, the band doesn’t really change anything up drastically. Fortunately, the likes of “Katana” and “Cyclone” drag significantly less than the album’s opener. “Katana” is driven by a memorable piano melody and also features catchy guitar work. It’s subtler and places less an emphasis on a tedious buildup which adds a bit more enjoyment to the track. However, this track also reveals the band’s overuse of atmospheric tremolo picking. Even though undeniably it's beautiful and massive in the mix, fans and newcomers to post rock alike will certainly yearn for a bit more variety. “Cyclone” shows no exception to these claims as well. Thankfully, it showcases a more layered guitar driven sound, but it yet again never really changes up the pace.
Unfortunately, that’s all we’ll really hear from the band on the first disc. “Elysian Castles” and “Where We Begin” approach the music with the same sounds and routines of the previous tracks. From the moving textures of “Elysian Castles” to the heartwarming guitar work of “Where We Begin,” it’s all familiar. The title track is also no exception to this trend, which reveals the band’s unwanted stagnation. As evidenced by You Are There
and Hymn to the Immortal Wind
, it’s clear that Mono are capable of accomplishing so much more. They can’t do this while employing the same standard post rock tropes over and over again. They can definitely pull off another “Pure as Snow” from Hymn to the Immortal Wind
if only they adopt a slightly darker sound or use different types of techniques. Literally anything that tweaks the sound even a little bit would be a breath of fresh air. Granted, all of the music here is pleasant and enjoyable for experienced post rock fans, but definitely will prove tiresome for newcomers.