Two years on from their self-titled debut Ohio-born, and in the main underrated, quartet Mona have finally released their second collection of true American rock ‘n’ roll.
From the off, it’s clear that Torches & Pitchforks is another raucous, guitar-filled LP that couples Tennessean musicality with frontman Nick Brown’s sexually raspy vocals.
The opening clip, ‘Intro – Mona’, is a 30s-esque fuzzy number, that would sound super sweet played through a Gramophone. Deception over, Mona finally make their initial appearance on the album with the steady ‘Wasted’. It’s easy listening, with occasional shouty moments that make it that little bit more anthemic.
Move on down the tracklist, and one of the standout tracks ‘Darlin’ plays out like a modernised country ditty. Lead single ‘Goons (Baby, I Need It All)’ quickly follows, with a deliciously catchy set of six-string riffs, subtle synth, and luscious drum fills. However nothing detracts from Brown’s passionate vocals at helm; southern, loud and sexy.
At the half-way point,’Don’t Cry (Interlude #1)’ provides a wonderfully acoustic moment in and amongst the other strident licks. It’s a cute tune that would fit nicely into an ‘everything is perfect’ scene in a rom-com movie. Meanwhile ‘Cross The Line’ promotes a foot-tap inducing beat along with a chorus that is guaranteed to push one’s lung capacity to the limit.
After a second gap in the chaos with ‘Waiter (Interlude #2)’, the closing trio of ‘Late Night’, ‘L.L.L.’ and ‘Love Divine’ provide an incredible conclusion to a stunning album. The latter-most track in particular sees Nick and the boys mustering the very last of their energy for a powerfully raw finale that does nothing short of inducing goose-bumps.
Mona have never been truly appreciated by music fans, instead cast aside as a second Kings of Leon, but they couldn’t be more different. Sure, this album draws on the same deep South influences as the Followill’s early material, but they don’t seem to be a band that let’s those influences pucker under the commercial needs of record labels, unlike their adopted Tennessee brothers.
On the whole, Mona have seemingly dodged the infamous ‘second album blues’, a situation that only few truly great bands can avoid. Torches & Pitchforks is a kick-ass collection of rock ‘n’ roll recordings that balances passionate guitar thrashing with occasional pulses of calm. Their debut was good, but when everyone thought that they weren’t all that they came back to prove them wrong – and they succeeded.
4 stars ★★★★✰
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