Red Monkey

Difficult Is Easy

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Red Monkey's core has always been their politics, and Difficult Is Easy is no exception. The band has always advanced their agenda -- down with materialist culture, up with self-actualization -- in refreshingly idealistic but occasionally clumsy slogans. Here, though, Red Monkey's music doesn't deliver often enough on the rush of empowerment that the group's lyrics promise. The album doesn't feature much variation in dynamics or texture and only a few passages are particularly catchy, so the songs all end up sounding fairly similar. Despite the pervasive sameness, Red Monkey's sound on Difficult Is Easy is impressive enough: the group's precise, angular post-punk sounds a bit like the Minutemen minus any funk influence, or like Fugazi with a more minimal, less-distorted guitar sound. But tracks on which Red Monkey manage to muster a memorable groove or a surprise dynamic change are the exception rather than the rule. Red Monkey newcomers should check out Difficult Is Easy only after hearing the later Gunpowder Treason & Plot, in which Red Monkey managed to combine their taut, jittery sound with more savvy songwriting.

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