The self-titled EP from Portland based quintet Rare Monk is only the band’s third outing, following their own self released Death by Proxy EP in 2012 and 2014’s Splice/Sleep Attack 7-inch the band return with their apocalyptic electro-post-pop stylings, with producer Tom McFall (Bloc Party, R.E.M) controlling from the booth. The bands low-key psychedelic sound is taken to visceral new heights, with lyrics about the ruin of the Midwest and California being on fire effectively weaved through pop outlines before being transformed into something more with the addition of violin, saxophone and ethereal synths, culminating in a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
The opening track, California (Will Burn), begins with a pulsing post-punk bass line and a screeching but bright guitar tone, almost like a Phoenix cover of a Kings of Leon track. The story telling present on the track is masterful, charting a wasteland in the place of California, lines such as ‘Burn the bodies to stop the disease’ and the repeated ‘California will burn’ hook set this album apart from other similar alt-pop acts, this theme of apocalyptic ruin is expertly paired with the tracks instrumentation. upbeat but off kilter, as if the world imagined in the lyrics isn’t too dissimilar to reality, however the difference is palpable.
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Warning Pulse again kicks off with a bass heavy intro accompanied by crashing drums, the vocalists lilting style compliments the track, contrasting with the first track as it feels more like a lament of the state of affairs than a description. My personal favourite track from the EP is The Only Reason to Tour the Midwest, this slow building ballad sounds like what Snow Patrol should have been, the repeating background riff creates the perfect back drop for the melody to swell and build.
Sounding like a grown up Balance and Composure, this ep shows off Rare Monk’s talent for combining traditional instruments with modern production to create brilliant pseudo-punk that’s accessible to a variety of listeners.