Monsters Are Waiting


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The '80s are back with a vengeance. The decade that turned clothes horses into international stars and the rest of the population into fashion victims is being revived faster than a heart attack sufferer hit with an amp of epi. Monsters Are Waiting are the latest to join the new wave of new wavers. Of course, the original wave began surging in the late '70s, and it's from the precursor post-punk scene that these Monsters were hatched. That's dead obvious from the opening track, "Last Goodbye," the best song New Order never wrote but could have -- perhaps they decided the guitar part was a just a bit too U2 for comfort. "Nobody," too, is unadulterated '80s, the Cure in dream mode, while "Ha Ha" giggles its way into goth and "Don't Go" stutters its jerky rhythms around just like Wire. So far, so wonderfully derivative, which isn't an insult -- it takes work and talent to so lovingly re-create the atmospheres and sounds of the past without having lived it, and without being slavish copycats. "Firefly," however, suggests that there's much more to these Monsters than mere revivalism. The past still flutters about, but here the group sounds nothing like any band you've heard before, while the atmospheres shimmer in uncomfortable dreaminess. "Christine," too, defies easy categorization, its militaristic beats and intricate bassline vying with a psychedelic-tinged organ and big rock guitar. "Monsters" has an even stronger '60s flavor (Wire covering the Kinks springs to mind), while the languorous "Time" manages to encompass an entire almanac along the way. Oddly enough, the Monsters hail not from the U.K., but L.A., and boast a quartet of extraordinarily talented multi-instrumentalists. Singer/keyboardist Annalee Fery is a wonder, with the sweetness of Pauline Murray, the energetic punch of Fay Fife, and the disarming straight-shooting style of Poly Styrene. The melodies are unforgettable, the musicianship flawless, the production perfect, and the lyrics alternately haunting and anthemic. The Monsters Are Waiting, but not, one thinks, for very much longer.

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