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Monody Review

by Matt Collar

Mantler's 2010 effort Monody is a soulful and engagingly moody album that features singer/songwriter Chris A. Cummings' knack for bare-bones soft rock and indie soul. With songs centered most prominently around Cummings' lo-fi Wurlitzer keyboard compositions, Monody often sounds something like a mix of '70s icons Steely Dan backed by French pop duo Air. These are low-key but still somehow hugely cinematic tracks that register as a kind of indie rock take on flim noir. It doesn't hurt that Cummings fills out these arrangements with orchestral flourishes, various wind instruments, and percussion elements that help to broaden his already expansive jazz-infused musical palette. However, just when you think you've got Cummings pegged as the captain of his soft rock yacht, he smacks you with such mid-album cuts as "Fresh and Fair" that pop and percolate with electronic keyboards and programmed beats. Similarly, the creeping and stealthy "Breaking Past and Day" hits with a kind of '80s synth pop Taco-meets-ELO vibe.

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