Its name means one – and the band Mono creates one unique sound. It has one album. It has one hit.
And it has one problem: its debut album, Formica Blues (Mercury Records) demonstrates Mono’s style, but that’s all it does.
The first track, “Life in Mono,” is the album’s highlight. The song, featured on the Great Expectations soundtrack, enthralls the listener with passionate and alluring music. Lead singer Siobhan DeMare, flaunts her sensuality and seems to become one with the piece.
But on Formica Blues, “Life in Mono” is just another one of Mono’s songs – rather than the track that whisks listeners into a dream world as it does on the soundtrack.
The second track, “Silicone,” has a similar sound to “Life in Mono.” DeMare’s breathy voice, combined with the keyboards, creates an eerie sound. The song conjures images of haunted mansions in dark woods with bats flapping wings overhead. But the song does not contain enough individuality to be truly memorable.
At points, Mono tries to explore a new sound and break the monotony of the album, but fails miserably. The listener is compelled to skip ahead to the next song – which inevitably rings of Mono’s typical sound.
“High Life,” clearly the worst track of the album, uses an upbeat rhythm reminiscent of ’60s bee-bop. DeMare sounds more like Diana Ross, as she loses the deep, breathy sounds that make her voice distinct.
Mono’s attempt at diversity works better in “Slimcea Girl,” but it still doesn’t succeed. The keyboard offers a softer, less technical sound than in other songs, which is a pleasant switch. However, in the choruses, DeMare is joined by overpowering background vocals. These vocals do not mesh well with lead vocals and sound misplaced.
Mono tries to create a diverse and entertaining album. But, rather than changing the rhythms of the music, adding new instruments and creating songs with varying meaning, Mono tries to create an entirely different sound for the band.
The songs in which the unique style of Mono shines all sound the same, but these songs are the only ones the listener will enjoy. The listener will like half of the songs, but will be unable to differentiate between the tracks. The other songs are simply disappointing.
The album also has over-long intervals between songs. Pauses punctuate each song ending, but then another 10-second silence ensues before the next song, causing the album to drag.
Although Mono doesn’t succeed with its first album, Formica Blues shows the band has potential. The members of Mono only have been together since 1996. If Mono continues to add depth, it could succeed. For now, Mono will have to be content with the success of “Life in Mono.”