MONA are a band indebted to their States rich Rock and Roll heritage and in this era we live in, it’s hard for any band not to be a pastiche of those that have come before them. But this Tennessee outfit (originally from Ohio, they moved base last year to the cooler sounding Nashville, Tennessee) seem very happy to use this imagery of 1950’s America and the Southern states for their own gain, (see the ‘Listen to Your Love’ video for a slide show of some cool looking vinyl-age stuff) but they are a band with a fresh take on this classic rock and roll sound.
There’s a strong feeling of being pure in intent and sincere in their love of their influences but not purists when it comes to arrangement and instrumentation. Debut single ‘Listen to Your Love’ with it’s deep washes of reverb over the higher guitar lines and a bassy aggressive fuzz on one of the main melodies, if anything draws comparisons in the form of close to home artist, Glasvegas.
Lyrically they combat that tried and tested topic of love, but they go at it with some vigour and heart, something that seems to evade many artists singing of this well worn subject who cling to the charts. In fact the lyrics and delivery if anything are reminiscent of Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem at their most earnest.
One problem with the single lies in it’s production (a factor being that the song was recorded in a Nashville basement) which has it’s charm but doesn’t give the song the room to breath, and this band feel like they have a sound that transcends basements, but this is a song made for the 45. so depending on the listener you’ll either feel let down by the production or latch on to the retro vibe. Either way this doesn’t betray the quality of the song.
This single and the my space demo ‘Lines in the Sand’ are both strong songs but if anything it’s the sincerity behind them that really carries these songs and this isn’t for everyone. The band’s roots are firmly set in the past and with the world in it’s current state a little escapism from time to time isn’t a bad thing, even if you’re escaping to a place that has been rose tinted from it’s subsequent years, but shouldn’t we have our eyes nailed to the now? Trying to cope with our current situation? Rather than re-exploring old templates, ideas and attitudes it could be argued we should be trying to forge new ones. This is easier said than done but there are people out there doing that. So in all, MONA are a band already with an accomplished sound, and theirs is a confident debut effort really worth listening to, but it feels a bit too nostalgic in a time when we need something to grab us by the collar and drag us through these times with fresh ideas.
Buy it now as a 7” from Rough trade. Limited to 300 Copies. £4.99
From Joe Jezard.