Monnone Alone

Summer of the Mosquito

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Summer of the Mosquito Review

by Tim Sendra

The first Monnone Alone record, 2012's Together at Last, was a gentle indie pop confection that felt lighter than air; the second effort from the former Lucksmith is an altogether different experience. Somewhere along the way -- maybe while working on the Last Leaves album -- Mark Monnone discovered the joys of guitars cranked up to ten, huge singalong choruses, and Fanclub-sized hooks that will leave fans of chiming, summertime power pop in a state of rapture. One could fit Summer of the Mosquito right next to the best work of Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, or Teenage Fanclub and not notice any drop in quality. It's that good. Working with former Lucksmith guitarist Louis Richter, who adds sparkling 12-string guitar to much of the album, and a cracking rhythm section, Monnone whips up a batch of songs that punch through the speakers with vigor and imprint their melodies like a tattoo of the sun. The title track and "I Wanna Hide in Yesterday" kick off the record in fine jangle pop fashion, pairing Monnone's laconic vocals with pristine guitars, "Cut Knuckle" and the lyrically devastating "Yo Dad" are tough rockers that whip up some serious noise, and "Do It Twice" is basically the sound of a hot summer day boiled down to four minutes of thundering drums, falsetto backing vocals, and sharp-as-shark-teeth guitar interplay. The record isn't all bright and fun, though; a couple tracks dial it back to a loping folk-rock tempo that sounds just as good. The lovely "Jerry's Can" shows some laid-back West Coast influences and could have been lifted from the Rademaker brothers' songbook, "Strollers" is a dreamy ballad with the album's lushest arrangement and some fleet-fingered 12-string, and "Feeling Together Feels Alright" really does sound like a lost Teenage Fanclub song with its slowly rollicking rhythms, spiraling melody, and almost impossibly uplifting vocal harmonies. The album is perfectly balanced between warm nights and bright days, optimistic feelings and nostalgic melancholy, and in-the-red noise and soft harmony. In a career made up of highlights, both as a Lucksmith and elsewhere, Summer of the Mosquito just might be the best thing Monnone has been involved in, which makes the album a must-have for fans of indie pop.

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