The Almost

Monster Monster

Written by: TL on 29/11/2009 13:16:31

Now I'll readily admit that I have rarely had anything but lukewarm feelings towards Aaron Gillespie's extra curricular activities as the main man in the band The Almost, their subtle christmas EP of last year, "No Gift To Bring" being the exception. On neither debut album, nor the recent "Monster EP", did I feel that the band had crafted strong enough songs, to counter the fact that their style is a little bit too straight forward - dare I say nondescript? - for my tastes. "Monster Monster", however, the album which "Monster EP" was a prequel to, is admittedly the record that succeeds in heating me up.

And that's quite weird, because initially, there's not really anything new under the sun to get excited about. This is still mellow, yet upbeat, verse/chorus-based, straight forward rock music, with no frills and no flash, only a focus on Gillespie's delightful, strained singing. The only similar band that easily comes to mind is Foo Fighters. Now in the past, and also during my first listens to this record, I've felt that The Almost had a good enough sound, but one they didn't imbue with enough variety, and more importantly, one they never managed to write any good choruses into. I still had these feelings here, because still, I feel like the verses, ripe with guitars and attitude-fueled vocals, were let down by choruses that were simply too obvious and far from explosive enough to really deliver.

However, I do not know if it's because I've given this record time to wage a war of attrition on my senses or because it simply does have growing quality, but after a while those songs that I didn't think were good enough, started to emerge in my mind on random moments, having me sing the words from both up tempo numbers like "Lonely Wheel" and "Monster Monster", as well as the typically anthemic ballad "Summer Summer"; which boasts some good catchy riffage and some classy string sections.

So in time then, this disc has grown to become entirely enjoyable and even momentarily memorable, revealing further highlights in tracks like "Want To"; born by some nicely jagged riffs, "Get Through"; lead by a passionately crooned chorus, and both "Hand Grenade" and "Monster" displaying the band's subtler side, sporting some cool bluesy western instrumentation, that adds some much needed character to the otherwise clean-shaven The Almost sound.

Still though, that is the main area in which I wish The Almost could improve. I realize that, when you're in a band like UnderOATH where no expense is spared and no effect left untouched in the pursuit of the right sound, the desire to go back to basics with your other band must be there, but still, there's no need to leave it fully naked now is there? A little bit more of that bluesy style in there maybe, or maybe a bit of support vocals added here and there ("Summer Summer" could've benefited greatly from this in at least one place), and maybe The Almost would have an easier time making room for their songs in my mind next time around, hell, they might even move me a little bit. Until then, words like "good", "solid" and "enjoyable" come to mind in relation to "Monster Monster", but words like "great", "awesome" and "impressive" are still just beyond The Almost's grasp, at least if you ask this reviewer.

Download: Lonely Wheel, Summer Summer, Monster
For The Fans Of: Foo Fighters, The Ataris, Taking Back Sunday
Listen: myspace.com/thealmost

Release Date 03.11.2009
Tooth And Nail

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