Stuffed inside the mighty, emotional rock power of Moneen's 2006 powerhouse The Red Tree are actually some equally sincere, heart-wrenching and beautiful, atmospheric moments. Granted, a single full listen of the album will reveal that, but when all these moments are concentrated into one linear offering, the experience is not only somber and a little only emotionally draining but also impressive and breathtaking due to the band's complex arrangements.
Saying Something You Have Already Said Before bills itself as one B-side, acoustic takes on four songs off The Red Tree, and a DVD on the other side of its DualDisc with four live songs. In reality, the new takes are anything but sparse; I think by "acoustic" they mean "with some acoustic guitar and lots more piano and beautiful, plugged-in guitars twinkling, ringing and filling the soundscape." "There Are a Million Reasons for Why This May Not Work...And Just One for Why It Will" seems to benefit the most from those touches -- Kenny Bridges' voice sounds magnificent here, soaring above a string section with perfectly punctuated lines by Chris Hughes. Moneen has been complimentarily and occasionally handed Explosions in the Sky comparisons since the release of 2003's Are We Really Happy with Who We Are Right Now?, but here's where they really match that level of beauty and orchestration. However, this type of adaptation definitely works for the other songs on the EP, which sound just as good here if not better than their original versions. "The Song I Swore Never to Sing" spills guts moist to the touch, ending the five-song disc much the same way it ends the full-length -- lines carefully sung with an alarming articulation and unsettling honesty ("kill yourself / surprise your friends").
Appropriately, the sole exclusive song, "Prepare Yourself...The Worst Is Yet to Come" is a slower, more reflective track in the vein of "This Is All Bigger Than Me" and "The Song I Swore To Never Sing." It wouldn't necessarily stand out on The Red Tree, but it's solid and attention-grabbing all the same.
My only complaint regarding the DVD portion would probably lie directly with the band; despite the arrival of their best album and most well-written songs yet I'm sort of convinced now that a compromise had to be drawn with the energy they exhibit live. I'd probably just attribute it to the heightened intricacy of their songs, which now command greater attention and focus to the performance at hand. However, a commendable job should be acknowledged on how dead on all four songs are played (three from The Red Tree plus the title track off Happy?) in front of a sizeable crowd at Toronto's Opera House, displayed by crisp camera work and flawless, pro video. It's slightly obnoxious to have the credits start rolling during the epic finish of "This Is All Bigger Than Me," but at least it doesn't completely ruin the song.
Saying Something You Have Already Said Before's title might ring with a bit of self-effacing truth, but rest assured Moneen constantly find wholly new and always refreshing ways to say those somethings, this being no exception.