Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
I hold my breath whenever a band tries to invoke the genre of new wave to give some readily definable quality to their sound. Generally I think the term lived and died in the ’80s, but I live to be proved wrong in that regard. Monograms, which began as the brainchild of vocalist Ian Jacobs, is a four-piece outfit from Brooklyn entreating on that territory. Aided by fuzzy guitars and plenty of gritty feedback, their latest EP Silencer revels in a raucous sort of experimentation that only barely gives you enough time to catch your breath between tracks.
That’s a good thing to clear up any ambiguity on my part. At times Jacobs’ vocals have the dynamic heft of Billy Idol under a lo-fi filter. “Radio Control” along with their single “OK Promises” are the best displays of this talent with the remainders of “Sharp Teeth” and “Trails (Boombox Anthem)” being noticeably more subdued due to the slower pacing. This brings to light some of the inconsistencies in Silencer’s construction. Each track feels like a new iteration of the band and rightly so due to changes in the group’s lineup and studio location.
“Sharp Teeth” and “Radio Control” both give off a headier vibe of reverb-centric garage rock. Meanwhile “Trails” and “OK Promises” act as the two definite outliers with the more percussive, wall-of-sound production of the former never quite able to leave its hooks in long enough. But “OK Promises” does everything it needs to do to leave its mark as a single worth its salt. The hook of the chorus is an energetic melding of balanced percussion and vocals that conjures up images of youthful frustration and rebellion. Through everything it remains the one track that gives Monograms their own distinct identity that doesn’t necessarily need to label itself as this or that. Whether new wave, psych rock, or post-punk, Silencer at the very least offers a snapshot of a band discovering their own raw potential.