Saturday, March 14, 2015

Album Review: Monuments and Statues - Fractals (2015)

Back in late 2013 I wrote about a single called 'Red Dress', which had been released earlier that year by Ontario-based folkers Monuments and Statues. The single was a belated follow-up to the band's Welcome to the Undertow EP, which was released as far back as 2010, and it came with the promise of a full-length album sometime in the future. Well, the future’s here, because a few weeks back the band’s debut album Fractals made its way into my ever-expanding inbox.

One of the reservations I had about Welcome to the Undertow at the time related to the music's lack of structure and form. 'Red Dress' itself came across as being rather ramshackle and almost random in parts. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but it felt as though there was a little too much going on.

That most certainly isn't the case with Fractals, and clearly the good folk of Monuments and Statues have spent a lot of time getting things just right for the album. The nine tracks that make up the album appeal as beautifully crafted slices of folk-pop, and the whole thing just seems to gel.

The band's basic approach hasn't changed markedly; the music remains essentially acoustic in form - banjo, cello, piano, and a variety of string instrumentation underpinning some lovely girl/boy vocal harmonies. The song-writing is solid, production is crisp and full, and there is no obvious weak moment across the album.

Looking for highlights, no single track stands out over any of the others. ‘Red Dress’ features again, the 2014 single ‘Oh Great Rose’ is a worthy album opener, and I really love the sultry vocal and fullness of sound offered on ‘Galafax’, which gets a reprise near the end.

There’s a real sense of cohesion throughout Fractals. As debut albums go, it’s pretty impressive, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see this release take the band to a whole new level - in terms of wider exposure and popularity. Fractals feels like a genuine step forward for Monuments and Statues.

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