Looking to move into the pantheon of modern arena rock bands like U2 and Kings of Leon, Nashville alt-rockers Mona make a renewed bid for glory on their sophomore album, Torches & Pitchforks. A more midtempo affair than their debut effort, the album is full of big, hooky choruses and heartfelt anthems, so while the pace may have changed, the band's intentions seem clearer than ever. The biggest change, though, is the production. Tweaked with more reverb and an all-around bigger sound, the album doesn't just feel like songs made to be played in front of a massive crowd. With its added reverb and muted but bass-heavy sound, the album sounds more like a live album than a studio session, putting listeners right there in the crowd while giving the band all the control of a studio recording. While the album certainly isn't breaking any new ground, Torches & Pitchforks does a pretty good job of scooping listeners up and taking them on a quick emotional ride. Unfortunately, the thrill of the journey is a short-lived one, and while Mona are definitely adept at writing catchy, radio- and arena-ready songs, the impression that they leave floats away just as quickly as it arrived. This kind of entertainment without investment is a staple of pop music, though, so while this isn't an album that's likely to change your life or lead to any grand revelations, it's one that's an enjoyable enough listen that you probably won't feel too bad about giving it a spin.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney
feat: The Chapel Keys