For Moneen's third full-length, the guys start with a bang and end with a whisper. Quietly perfecting an invigorating mix of emo (à la the Get Up Kids) and math rock since their 1999 debut EP, The Red Tree brings more textured backdrops of up-and-down dynamics complete with crashing guitars, ringing vocals, and mid-song drop-offs into piano bits or soft lyrics that fans have come to love. The six-minute "The Day No One Needed to Know" shows this recipe perfectly, as it fades near the halfway point, leaving vocalist Kenny Bridges singing alone, until the song -- yup -- kicks back in for an exuberant ending. The album starts in high gear with the opening track's hyperactive drums rolls and layered vocal harmonies, which eventually spill over into a supporting backbone of frenzied guitar. Without pausing for breath, the second and third songs follow suit. However, this brisk opening trifecta isn't especially distinctive, with each track mostly relying on the same animated formula of pent-up energy bursting around upfront vocal harmonies. Further into the album, songs become more of the up-and-down, fast-slow-fast variety, as Moneen play tight and harmonize with ease. The gentleness of "This Is All Bigger Than Me" is a definite standout (and not just for its concise title), while the surging "The Frightening Reality..." benefits from engaging riffs. The final two tracks are more fully developed ballads that escape the usual build-up of the rest of the album, but "There Are a Million Reasons..." somewhat has the feeling of being the requisite slow song for a band like the Used that the delicate "The Song I Swore to Never Sing" thankfully evades. It's always nice to see a band attempt to step outside the boundaries constraining so many other groups of the emo new school, and Moneen seem to consistently separate themselves from the pack in this way. The Red Tree is another capable release to add to their others, but the time might be appropriate for an expansion on their own formula to occur.
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AllMusic Review by Corey Apar