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Monster Movie - To The Moon

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Artist: Monster Movie

Album: To The Moon

Label: Clairecords

Review date: Oct. 21, 2004

To be fair, Nick Drake probably snuffed himself. So you can’t blame Christian Savill for buying more real estate in the neighborhood he shared with Neil Halstead, after their beloved slo-glo outfit Slowdive bit the dust and Halstead moved on to folksy, Drakean renewal. With his old pal Sean Hewson, Savill formed Monster Movie and rigged the old formula with some Yoshimi Foxtrot Sophtware Bulletin sweep on 2002’s jaw-dropping Last Night Something Happened, obscuring his roots just enough to keep up with the hi-fi times. After all, why commit suicide when you can write a song as good as “4th and Pine” about it, and get it produced to the nines?

So “Sweet Lemonade,” track one on To The Moon (it's a Honeymooners reference), seems a bit the curveball. It’s a pure ‘n’ simple pop ditty, verses punctuated with “hey”s and a chorus decked out with a catchy guitar hook. Maybe it’s an experiment in formula, or an endearingly futile attempt to get Top 40 play. Either way, it’s good and doesn't work.

The album slowly draws back into old habits. “Dream About You” keeps the upbeat pace, but its vocals summon back the dented pop melancholia Savill does best. “Beautiful Arctic Star” slows the beat down and plays an electro-hymn to hopelessly unrequited love, sad as a teenager’s obsessive crush on a “Best Supporting Actress” nominee.

The real hit single here isn’t “Sweet Lemonade,” but “Memento,” which may have been written in the middle of the night by a freshly awakened dreamer struggling to recall, at once, an old crush and a soaring Gary Numan tune that played on the radio while he slept.

By the conclusion, To The Moon has explored moody depths untouched by Last Night Something Happened. “Nobody Sees” runs a wounded dis over a “Pomp and Circumstance” keyboard sleepwalk. When it hits the lyric “It must have been humiliating for you / I’ve made a million mistakes just like you,” its cubist empathy chills the bones.

PS: If you discovered the Jesus and Mary Chain via Lost In Translation and you’d like to hop on a trolley that’s still moving, open a new window and download Monster Movie’s “1950da” immediately.

By Emerson Dameron

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