CD Review: Monahan

We’ve talked about Monahan once before but now we’re finally reviewing the upcoming album Stop Saying I. It’s been on in the office as we’ve been painting and what not so rest assured, we’ve had a lot of time to listen to the lovely voice of Mr. Ryan Monahan and his assembled group of accomplished musicians. Catch the cd release party NEXT FRIDAY at Little Kings. Now on with the show…

As usual, a word about the album artwork first. Normally, I’m against artists appearing on the cover of their albums. But this is a special case. Note how Monahan is not the main focus of the photo. It’s bright but drained of color a bit. And a lamp. Who doesn’t love lamps?

Moving Targets acts as the baseline point for the rest of the album. Monahan introduces a lot of themes, both musically and lyrically, that will come back later on. A driving beat, complex orchestration, and a crooning voice are all you need to fall in love at first listen.

The Pendulum’s Heart sounds like a good Maroon 5 cut. Yeah, you may wince a bit at the comparison but the beat is pretty much where that ends. Monahan goes into full croon mode to counterbalance the sexy dance the backing band has created behind him. I always imagine him singing this in some velvet draped lounge as lovers whirl around in slow motion on the dance floor. But that’s just me.

Offset starts off sounding like it came from the Lion King but then Monahan’s voice cuts through, sounding all the world like Bono. It’s got a lot going on in it, from mandolin (?) and electric guitar to constant chanting in the background. At times it may get a little overwhelming but once you hit near the 2:20 mark, you’ve gotten used to it and they’ve changed the dynamic once again.

Love Me Sober Why is this not on a soundtrack yet? Maybe some indie flick with the lead male looking out forlornly at the sunset as his girlfriend walks away…. It’s sad, atmospheric, and the perfect song for a rainy day.

Criminals is the second mellow offering in a row. Again, I must comment on the arrangements. There’s a banjo in here, mixed in the very back, that works perfectly. It’s small touches like this that take a solid song and lift it to greatness.

Dirty Talk I love this one. Think Beck meets Radiohead. It’s a ton of fun and probably my favorite on the album.

More Familiar Words is a bit under-par considering the rest of the album. That said, it’s leagues better than anything you’ll hear on the radio, that’s for sure.

Mr.& Ms. Understanding is a great end to the album, a mix of quiet reflection and louder venting. Stick around through the whoooooole track for some interesting stuff.

Overall, I’d have to give Stop Saying I a 9 out of 10. If you want pure pop perfection, look no further than Monahan. It’s pop music for people who actually like music. Perfect listening for when the clouds are covering the sky and it’s about to rain.

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