Monday, 22 August 2011
REVIEW: Monsters Build Mean Robots - We Should Have Destroyed Our Generals And Not Their Enemies
Self released on their own Nice Weather for Airstrikes label, Monsters Build Mean Robots have finally put out their long-anticipated follow up to their 2008 self-titled debut - number 5 in my albums of the year when it emerged not long after they did, a collection of subliminally arresting electronic post-rock tracks with a dark edge of political confrontation that focussed on global Government's warcraft. On this second album their titular and lyrical leanings are still well into the left but this time they include materialism and a more personal existentialism across the five tracks. As well as embellishing their vocal potency they have also changed their musical outlook considerably. In their new incarnation there are no longer moments of sparse ambient flicker and glitch to build and direct the tensions and emotions, instead where it was once sounds sourced from the databanks of Leaf, Warp, and Kompakt, ambient signifiers that glowed throughout the tracks, here all that psychic energy is channelled through the sheer rapturous power of the guitar with reference to bands like Sigur Ros, Explosions In The Sky, and Arcade Fire.
The album features all the prominent post-rock landmarks you could need (exhaustive title included) and embellishes them with instinctive structures in miniaturised forms. No 10 minute + slow growing epics, just mini ones, bottled into pop songs. Glockenspiel fills ripple up the soaring crescendos of Song for the Generals; the progress of Lament 77 is interspersed with detailed vocal nuances, spaces in the walls of guitars where inflections and backing can slip through. The composition of the songs is assured and confident which gives the band an air of authority important if your key lyrical stock is chastising those in power and standing up as spokesperson for the disenfranchised. Spearheading the band is the voice and guitar of Pete Lambrou - whichever update of Post.Rock.V.XX we're up to now, he's at the forefront of it, putting on bands around the South and fronting both MBMR and the more rock-centric Last Days of Lorca. When he suggests that you burn down your home, in Psalm 57, you're inclined to take his lead and go through with it. He's got a real lived-in sounding set of chords, got a bit of fire to his falsetto that sets him apart from the Jonsi's and Bellamy's of the world although he is capable of layering on the dreaminess and hollering up a bit of bombast when it suits, and more importantly, where it fits. Again: composition is the keystone to this album's success.
We Should Have Destroyed Our Generals And Not Their Enemies is being officially launched with a free-entry party is TONIGHT! at the Druids Arms, Brighton.