Like Alvvays and Nap Eyes, Monomyth are redefining the music of Canada’s East Coast, which has long been associated with Celtic music, The Rankin Family, and Joel Plaskett-style folk rock. Since forming in 2012, the quartet infused a ’70s psychedelic sensibility into the Halifax scene with hheir self-titled, debut EP and their first full-length, Saturnalia Regalia!. Since then, the multi-fronted/multi-songwriters band have taken residence in Montreal and in the process their sound has expanded. This evolution is evident on their sophomore album, Happy Pop Family.
More jangle-, surf-, folk-, and indie rock, their sophomore album sounds straight out of Melbourne, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn. While sonically they have changed, two things remain – the nod to the ’60s and ’70s and the band’s introspective and terrific songwriting. The opening track, “Aloha”, reveals both. Through the veil of a lo-fi, bedroom-style, jangle-pop a la Melbourne’s great Dick Diver, Monomyth take us inside the mind of a person who wants to escape. “I just want to get fucked up and bug off and be free, find myself my slice of paradise” is a refrain to which everyone can relate. More jangle goodness is heard on “Drinking In Bed”, which recounts a person going through a breakdown.
“Puppet Creek” channels the folk-rock of the late ’60s and early ’70s akin to what Chicago rock group Whitney. The guitar work is warm and terrific, keeping you locked into this homely but intimate number. The Laurel Canyon vibes continue on the superb and cleverly titled, “Re:Lease Life (Place 2 Go)”. This song would have been perfect at Woodstock ’69 with its story of a person being betrayed by everything around him and his lengthy search for meaning. The sublime folk rocker “New Year’s Resolve” continues the soul-searching theme.
There is some groovy and cheerful cheekiness on the album, particularly on the “love” or relationship-oriented songs. On “Go Somewhere”, Monomyth adopt a light, happy-go-lucky pop-rock approach. The lo-fi but easy-listening “Palpitations” is right out The Mamas & The Papas’ discography. A nod to the great Canadian indie band Sloan, meanwhile, resonates on “Falling In Love” with its oft-kilter vibe.
While most of the album is of the light-hearted variety, Happy Pop Family ends with on an unexpected note. Drenched with fuzz, “Fuck With Me” is an extremely somber, but eye-opening psychedelic affair. It is like Ty Segall on Valium, as the band laments the end of a relationship. The song ends with a bigger surprise – the chorus from Human League’s classic hit, “Don’t You Want Me”. Then again, maybe “Fuck With Me” shouldn’t be a surprise. Monomyth, after all, continue to evolve. The song is a reminder of where they have come and where they are headed, which is as one of Canada’s great young groups and a band to watch for years to come.
Happy Pop Family is out now via Mint Records. It can be picked up on the band’s Bandcamp page.
Monomyth are Seamus Dalton (vocals/guitar/bass), Joshua Salter (vocals/guitar/bass), Graeme Stewart (vocals/bass/guitar/piano), and Matt Peters (drums).
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