Monster Movie

Keep the Voices Distant

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Monster Movie might be best known as the side project of Slowdive guitarist Christian Savill, starting up in 2000 and, with his musical partner Sean Hewson, helping keep the shoegaze flame burning with a series of strong albums. The band might have been in jeopardy of closing up shop when Slowdive reunited in 2014, but it only seemed to make the duo more determined to make a great album. They fleshed out their lineup with a drummer (James Harrison of Air Formation) and Slowdive's Nick Chaplin on bass and hit the studio with a batch of dreamy, hooky, sugar-coated songs that provide the sunshine that is missing from the Slowdive sound. Released in 2017, Keep the Voices Distant ditches the experiments and synth pop of the past in favor of a blown-out and huge dreamgaze sound. Savill and Hewson's guitars have the feel of skyscrapers, the rhythm section is rock-solid and mighty, and the duo's production style can best be described as push the treble and damn the rest. It's a bright and spangly gush of an album, with shiny vocal harmonies, melodies that twinkle and splash, and no end of sonic thrills. Savill and Hewson share many of the lead vocals and they sing with a joyful abandon that matches the cascading swells the band whips up on songs like the title track and the positively buoyant "In the Ground." They sound like Ride with an injection of helium on a few songs, most notably "Trapped" and "Don't You Want to Love Us," where the chord changes build into an unstoppable force and the voices are swept away in the current. In all the tripping rush to make the brightest album they could, they don't ignore the softer, more introspective side of dreamgaze, though. A couple songs dial back the tempo and cheerful attitude in favor of something more subtle and restrained. "No More" has the static, almost frozen feel of a classic early Slowdive song and "Into the Light" has a deep, searching quality and majestic guitar lines. Nothing on the album reinvents the shoegaze wheel, or even does much renovation. Basically, on Keep the Voices Distant, Monster Movie just write strong songs and play them with a sunny energy and lots of guitar noise. No frills, no great expectations, just a very good circa-2017 shoegaze album.

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