Angels of Mons

Last of the Dead Empires

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Short-lived though they were, Angels of Mons gave the Irish music scene quite a kick when they first appeared. Cocksure and mysterious, the Dublin threesome came across as arrogant before their time, turning off as many listeners as they turned on. Controversial though they were, they were widely tipped for success, and were awarded the Hope for 2005 award at that year's Meteor Irish Music Awards, representing a tiny nation's faith that one of its artists could repeat the recent cross-border success of Snow Patrol and Damien Rice. However unlikely the mix may seem in the 21st century (though it certainly wasn't unusual in Seattle), Angels of Mons' blend of New York glam punk and Seattle fuzz had mass appeal. Expertly produced by Gareth Mannix (Director, Republic of Loose), lead single "Highs and Lows" flips the standard grunge quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic, emphasizing the strong melodic construction in the early stages before the dropping the fuzzbox guitars in the thrilling climax. "Madame Zane" is more of the same, placing a squealy punk-metal guitar riff alongside a cherubic pure pop chorus. Unfortunately, the rest of the album isn't quite so fresh and vibrant. "Money Shot" and "Little by Little" echo Nirvana with plenty of enthusiasm but little else. The Pixies-aping mid-album highlight "Mardi Gras" at least pulls off the imitation with aplomb, while "Jennifereal" and "Soup of the Day" are infectious sludgy updates of the Beatles and the Kinks respectively. However despite the early promise of "Madame Zane" and "Highs and Lows," Last of the Dead Empires too often lapses into mere imitation; the tunes are strong, but there's little else to differentiate them from the groups they seek to follow.