By Jennifer Trainor
With “Listen to Your Love” all over alt rock radio, and Mona buzzing throughout the industry post SXSW, I had pretty big expectations. On everyone’s radar, mags and blogs are all touting Mona as “best new band for 2011” and “the next Kings of Leon“, and all without a full album release to date (currently scheduled for May 16 in the UK and June 17 in the US). Those are some big promises to deliver on, so when I didn’t walk away from the Met on Monday night (3/28) completely jazzed about these guys, I felt a little sad. I’d been ready to be blown away.
Opening for The Joy Formidable as they tour promoting their latest album offering The Big Roar, puts Mona in an interesting spot as they feel the surge of potential beneath their feet. With more buzz potentially than they band they’re supporting, Nick Brown, band frontman (vocals, guitar) seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, as though he’s just putting in the time but knows that he and his bandmates – Vincent Gard (drums), Zach Lindsey (bass) and Jordan Young (guitar) – have their sights on bigger things, and like, tomorrow.
On this particular night the odds were unfortunately stacked against them – it was Monday night. They were in a small city of Pawtucket, RI, just on the border of Providence. Not a bad music scene, but not exactly burgeoning either. Based on the size and energy of the crowd, it seemed their buzz hadn’t quite arrived here yet. I typically fall for a new band easily and pretty hard – especially when there’s a little scruff and some skinny black jeans involved. I’m allured by that promise of being able to say “I knew them when”, so for me to walk away not completely loving these guys, I’m wondering – what’d I miss?
Now before I become the only soul on record to be perceived as publicly dissing these boys, let me say it’s not that they didn’t turn in a decent performance. They did. They did everything they had to do. With most of their music unheard in the US, I was thrilled that they treated us to not only their released singles of “Teenager”, “Listen to Your Love”, and “Trouble on the Way”, but also 4 songs new to my ears – “Lines In the Sand”, “Say You Will”, “Pavement” and “Lean into the Fall”. “Lines in the Sand” is the one to watch for. Nick almost totally won me over here, as he passionately and sensitively croons that “it’s cold outside” and “I don’t want you, I don’t need it”. It’s here that they most feel Kings of Leon, but as much as see that, I also get a bit of a Blink-182 vibe from “Teenager”. Let’s face it, either way, not a bad spot to be. As he introduced “Listen to Your Love”, Nick tells us, “We do music because we love it. Hopefully you listen for the same reasons.” Sounds endearing, but the delivery lacked…something.
Fortunately for Mona, the songs don’t lack the necessary jams and hooks that make us want to hear more. No doubt I will buy this album and hopefully see them again and find a connection. So with what looks like a pretty hit-stacked album on the horizon, a couple of memorable chorus’ and a seemingly talented band, what’s missing? I think that this “band from Nashville” just lacks a bit of southern charm. Probably because they’re really from Ohio.