Moneen: Kenny Bridges, Chris "The Hippy" Hughes, Peter Krpan, Erik Hughes.
Additional personnel: Chad Blinman (strings); Trever Keith (background vocals).
Recorded at Audio International, Ojai, California; The Eyes Socket, Venice, California.
On its Vagrant debut, the Toronto quartet Moneen more fully indulges its mixture of emo dynamics with ambitious math rock songscapes. Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? is as musically grandiose as its lengthy title, die-cut packaging, and involved song titles and lyrics would suggest. Songs like "To Say Something That Means Nothing to Anyone at All" begin as a typical emo rocker, only to dissolve into an extended period of instrumental noodling. But the passage essentially becomes an extended bridge setting up a final, furious chorus. This is the drawback to Moneen's larger-than-life sound: Though the band succeeds at expanding emo's borders, it usually returns to the genre's hallmarks before too long. Sweeping choruses; high-pitched, interlocking vocals; and crashing guitars abound on Are We Really Happy, even if most songs take a few minutes to slow things down, drop in piano, and generally pad the proceedings with melodrama. The quartet's songs, voices, and playing are as tight as anything from veterans like the Get Up Kids or fellow newcomers such as hardcore/emo fusionists Silverstein. But in its zeal to reach great new heights in emo, Moneen ends up stalling out in simply good territory. The searching, often acerbic lyricisms; rousing melodies; and most of the album's extended instrumental experiments should appeal to fans eager for something more than the same old heartbreak-married-to-ringing-guitars formula. But for Moneen itself, Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? might represent another few steps toward something truly exceptional. ~ Johnny Loftus
CMJ (6/30/03, p.7) - "...Amid guitar-lines moving diametrically against one another and syncopated percussion blasts emerging from a wash of reverb, the Toronto-based band has found its niche within the spectrum of 'aggressive melodic pop..."