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Onward, Soldiers

Monsters

(Winoca; US: 21 Feb 2012; UK: Import)

Monsters could have been a disaster. When from song to song I’m wondering what exactly the band is aiming at, I would ordinarily classify the album as scattershot. To some extent, Monsters is; the album opens with jaunty piano pop, then goes into typical rock, then into alt-country, then into country, then into piano balladry. It’s a very sorted affair, and it gives the impression that Onward, Soldiers think genre-hopping for the sake of genre-hopping is a good thing. On most albums it wouldn’t be, but on Monsters the band pull it off. Nearly every track will have you come back for a second listen; even when the lyrics are strange, like on “Cinder Blocks” (“Darling cinder block eyes you put me in a corner”... what?), the hook is so good that you just give up on wondering what they mean and sing along.


The one unifying genre running through the album is country; the snare drum-led outlaw ballad “Living on the Run” and “Cry” are typically country, whereas they veer more towards alt-country on “Carolina.” This does provide some unity to the album’s diversified sounds, but this isn’t a country album with a couple of pop and rock tracks thrown in for good measure. Monsters is an experiment in multiple genres; it plays out like an album comprised of nine great singles. Every track here is memorable, and the album lends itself to multiple spins in the stereo. With a little more focus, Onward, Soldiers could be onto something truly excellent.

Rating:

Brice Ezell is the Assistant Editor of PopMatters, where he also reviews music, film, and books, which he has done since 2011. He also is the creator of PopMatters' Notes on Celluloid column, which covers the world of film music. His writing also appears in Sea of Tranquility and Glide Magazine (formerly Hidden Track). His short story, "Belle de Jour", was published in 67 Press' inaugural publication The Salmagundi: An Anthology. You can follow his attempts at wit on Twitter and Tumblr if you're so inclined. He lives in Chicago.


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Onward, Soldiers- Telling Nobody (Official Video)
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