Monster Monster – The City’s Ours EP – Review
The history of Monster Monster is a curious one, emerging from the most unlikely of situations: a war of words in a bar. When songwriter Mick Stuart who admits that ‘he can’t sing for nuts’ was out in a bar one night, he chanced across singer-songwriter Ríona Sally Hartman. The pair got into a heated debate as to whether singer-songwriters could handle someone else’s song with style and grace, eloquently communicating what the writer was originally trying to convey. Each pint consumed on the night caused the argument to escalate and so the pair agreed to reconvene the next day and put this challenge to the test. The gauntlet was thrown down, and when the two met the following day Ríona proved to be the winner!
The pair went on to collaborate on several other projects, including their latest and boldest project, Monster Monster, an alternative pop act with songwriting at the heart. The friction between the two and their unwavering desire to create great music was undeniably what created the brilliance of Monster Monster. Mick initially creates the songs and then passes them on to Ríona who skilfully develops upon Mick’s initial musings. Their perspectives are strikingly different, Mick suggests left, Ríona swings right. Mick listens to Massive Attack, Emilie Sandé and The Beatles. Ríona listens to Janelle Monae, The Eurythmics and FKA Twigs. Their musical ideologies discovering the range between love and hate, their varying messages fuse together to create the powerhouse that is Monster Monster.
The Dublin band have moved on from the bar debates just long enough to release their debut EP The City’s Ours on 23 October with a coinciding headline show in Whelan’s. This is on the back of a very impressive few months on the road, including an appearance at this year’s Electric Picnic. The City’s Ours also benefitted from the Midas touch of UK producer James Lewis, who had previously worked with some impressive names such as Rudimental, Sunset Sons, and Rae Morris.
The title track is brought to life by Ríona‘s vocals, her voice is so powerful and emotive. As with Riona’s working relationship with Mick, contrast is always at the fore of The City’s Ours. Her vocals are so sunny and pumped whilst the underlying alt/rock has a more restrained quality. The title track outlines the brilliance of this EP, erupting with an ecstatic melody and a songwriting excellence that starts as it means to go on.
‘You’re My Fix’ and ‘Assassin’ have more ominous introductions to them, there’s a coolness to the vocal execution that further reaffirms that contrast is key when it comes to Monster Monster. ‘You’re My Fix’ is an ethereal composition, the instruments perfectly complement Riona’s voice and the compelling nature of the lyrics is allowed to shine through. ‘Assassin’ is even darker, with a cloying quality as the subtle stirring of guitars rumble throughout. There’s an intensity that draws the listener in, a vigour to the instruments that proves just how beautifully that confrontation in that bar worked out.
The City’s Ours is an EP that weaves and meanders throughout a wide spectrum of emotion, establishing Monster Monster as impressive songwriters and musicians. Its thrills and pace make it a consistent EP with a marked and definite ideology. Undoubtedly their live performances will only cement the greatness of The City’s Ours.