Sometimes, when a band breaks up, you become surprised at what
becomes of the various ex-members. Take, for example, Slowdive.
Who would have guessed, after listening to Pygmalion,
that Neal Halsted would, in a mere 4 albums, transform his sound
from sparse almost ambient soundscapes to generic folk-rock?
After hearing the last Mojave
3 disc, and a little of his latest solo album, i wonder
why he gave up trying to make interesting music and instead
has devoted his time to trying to be Nick Drake?
And what happened to the rest of the band anyway? I mean, Rachel
Goswell let Halstead carry her off into crappy folk-rock land,
but what about the rest of them?
Well, it turns out that Christian Savill, one of the guitarists,
has hooked up with his old buddy Sean Hewson to form Monster
Movie. In fact, apparently Savill and Hewson were in a band
pre-Slowdive, and now they are re-united. And, it turns out,
Savill had some amazing talent for writing catchy melodies.
Last Night Something Hapenned is a nice bouncey
album of decent songs. However, the choruses on almost all of
the songs are unbelievably catchy! It's as if the real strength
of Monster Movie is writing a catchy chorus that gets your toes
tapping and your head bopping, while the rest of their songs
(the verses) are just filler between choruses.
Okay, not really. The songs are good, but the choruses where
the guitars swell up and the voices step forward in harmony
-- that's some really nice stuff. Quite brilliant actually.
My favorite is Winter Is Coming. This has some great
bass work, and Savill plays an acoustic guitar throughout. The
chorus, though: WOW! The acoustic gets louder, some phase shifting
kicks in, the keys drone, and Savill and Hewson harmonize. It's
a very powerful moment.
But the album is not all sunshine and catchy choruses. There
are, for example, two instrumental tracks. First Trip To
The City starts the album off with a loud keyboard drone,
sily drum machine riff, and spaced out guitar. The other instrumental
is Star City, and i either love this song or hate it.
(I honestly can't decide.) An organ drones and a radio stutters
something in, i think, Russian. In the background a helicopter
circles, the "chop-chop-chop" sound of it's whirring blades
making the only rhythm in the song. It's relaxing and unnerving
at the same time, and does a lovely fade into the title track,
which is called 4th And Pine. This track is, by itself,
a lovely and happy little pop tune with darker lyrics:
That's all i seem to be
That's all i seem to be
I am a shadow of all i used to be
Not an uplifting message, but yeah, i understand that whole
"some people fade into the mass of humanity" thing. Or is Savill
singing about his role as the guitarist in a band with a star?
Is this song a complaint about the undeserved attention Mr.
Halstead is getting?
Well Christian, you've convinced me: Monster Movie is now officially
the more interesting half of Slowdive. Period.
Now that i have offered my little affirmation to the band,
let me talk about my favorite song on the disc. It's the second
track, and is called Shortwave. It is, quite frankly,
be one of the poppiest toe-tappingest tunes i have heard in
many a year. It features guitar phase shifted almost to the
point of ridiculousness (it wavers back and forth between the
channels almost dizzingly), light pianowork, a chiming guitar
over the phase, and some fun little vocals. The lyrics are so
fun to sing along with too:
I got a message from the underground
They told me
They never got your call.
Did your soul not shine?
Did your day turn into night?
Did you feel that your days are behind you?
Hmmm. It appears that this song too might be about being an
unrecognized peon in someone else's band. I mean, let's face
it, when you think Slowdive you think of Halstead and Goswell,
not Savill! Apparently the poor boy has issues!
He shouldn't though. Not if he can make music like this. It's
lovely little pop, and i recommend it to anyone who likes bouncey
music. Yes, that means you. Give it a listen. Help Christian
Savill realize that he is a talented musician in his own right,
and that he really shines now that he is out from under the
burden of supporting Halstead and Goswell.
If this is the type of music he had to offer, i wonder why
it took seven years? It's a shame we had to wait this long!