It's never a good sign when you nearly doze off to the record you're trying to review, unable to find anything worth writing about. Here I am, five long minutes into the penultimate track, finally starting to type after being more interested in internet time-wasters up to this point. As background music, Monument serves up the hits in spades.
So I guess I'm going in reverse order here because now I'm on the eleventh and final track "Around Every Corner" and something finally caught my attention about a minute in. That's a rad booming drum sound and a nice rim-riding beat, though I'm not particularly won over by the rest of the acoustic-based song; I'm getting the same Coldplay bland-rock vibe as the tracks that pussyfooted by previously. And all this from the label that brought us the debut of one of this site's near-unanimous obsessions. Guess I'm gonna have to start this baby over again and try to find something–anything–interesting that I may have missed. Ugh. I'll try again tomorrow.
Day two finds me feeling guilty for perhaps being a bit hard on these guys. They are a talented bunch who craft spacey, atmospheric soft-rock tunes rooted in simple ideas, and some of you might call this stuff beautiful. At times, maybe even me. At their best, like say, "Hold Still Now," Monument could recall some of Nada Surf's lighter fare. But also of note is that this is the seventh track and once again it wasn't until now I felt compelled to write. Track nine, "On My Way" actually gets rocking (in comparison) and after dropping to a subdued bridge it builds nicely to an on-beat double time beat and a slightly spikey guitar lead threatening to overtake the vocals singing the title. I gotta start this thing over again? This is the least-efficient review ever.
Day three, dammit… start strong, start strong. The first song, "The Intimate Anonymous," even has that "Clocks"-style 'everyone accent together now' drumbeat! C'mon guys, bust into some sweet, sweet backbeat and rock this bitch. Or not. "Magnetic North" isn't bad, since the drums pump it up and the guitars actually join the fight with distorted chords (rare 'round these parts) in the chorus. James Naddeo's vocals are smooth and inoffensive, recalling the rock-lite tones of the dude from Keane or that other dude from Snow Patrol. It's just a coincidence that most of these references are UK acts; Monument is from New York and New Jersey. When this band gets out of the slowest of slow tempos they aren't terrible- "Sirens" with its midrange beat has a rewarding chorus while the listless title track sounds ready-made for the cheesiest tear-jerker music video.
Monument has probably broken up, and though I can't find any official statement saying so, all sites related to the band show no action on the recording or touring fronts and their official website has not had a news post since they signed with XOXO 2 ½ years ago. Not to kick this band when they are likely already down for the count, but this album, while well-constructed and thought out, is not doin' it for me. And that's on three days' worth of chances.