Written by Fantasma el Rey
Monsters Are Waiting’s new E.P. Ones And Zeros is surely not a zero in any way or on any scale. Their second major release is one that showcases a more mature sound with lead vocalist Annalee Fery at the front and driven by Andrew Clark on the bass, guitar, and organ. With six tracks and just under thirty minutes to work with Ones And Zeros is as powerful and playable as any full-length effort could have been. If anything, it leaves you wanting more.
The opening track, “Crazy Love,” picks up right where their last L.P. left off, finding the overall sound remaining unchanged. The bass is thick; guitars still jangle out catchy chords as the drums remain heavy and solid while the organ floats in and out, making itself known at key moments. The lyrics carry forward with their look at love, loneliness, sadness, and the state of mind these feelings bring with a splash of the bitters. The backing vocals are strong on “Crazy Love” giving a nod to girl groups of the ‘60s and add to the appeal of the track.
“Don’t Lie,” “It’s Endless,” and the title track keep the groove alive. “Don’t Lie” is bursting with solid drumbeats and ‘80s alternative/ Britpop guitar work again pulled from such inspiration as New Order, The Cure, and The Smiths. “Ones And Zeros” has this catchy ‘80s Britpop dance mix down perfectly; New Order bass, Smiths guitar, plunking Cure keys and a Siouxsie and Banshees atmosphere (think “Spellbound”). Not that I’m saying that Annalee sounds like Siouxsie but the attitude and vibe are there. It all comes together to make the song as enjoyable as anything those big boys and girls could have cast out.
Drawing from another ‘80s Manchester source Monsters Are Waiting do a fine cover of The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored.” I heard them do this tune live and thought they did a fine job then and am glad they put it down for this release. It fits the whole sound and feel of the band perfectly as Annalee repeats, “I wanna, wanna be adored, adored” a few times, it’s trancelike with her sweet lulling voice. If you didn’t know the song, one could easily mistake it for an original. Annalee and company have done a fine job with the CD version of a live staple.
Closing the E.P. is “Steal The Sun,” which grooves on for six minutes as everything is on display again as the organ pumps in a ‘60s Tex Mex/girl group fashion. Annalee sounds like a sweet girl singing of naïve happy things but she really plans on taking, waking, and hating you. That’s why she’s stealing your sunshine, jackass. You somehow broke this girl’s heart and she is quietly going to get back at you. Annalee chants “love” and sings “I like you, I do/ I miss you tenderly” but she turns “in the whirlwind” and meets you after darkness to face you. An interesting song that makes you think as one can interpret the lyrics in a number of ways: jilted lover, outsider with “Just My Imagination” syndrome, or who knows what else. A great tune that moves and doesn’t seem like six minutes as you listen to the lyrics and try to figure out where they come from.
The change in the band lays in the mood and the less erratic vocal delivery of Annalee. While sticking to their alt-‘80s dance/Britpop grooves, the songs move well and the instrumentation seems tighter and more defined. Annalee keeps her vocals quiet, sweet, plaintive and moving. Missing are her high-pitched squeals and tailing off rants. On “Crazy Love” you can hear some of these vocal runs buried at the very end of the track. Annalee still soars off at times with her bitter sweetness and “Ahh-ahhs” but in its reserved form it adds to the emotion of the song and pushes them to a level higher than the first album.
Ones And Zeros is a good CD and makes me ask the question “Will a full-length outing follow soon after?” Time will tell but in the meantime I’ll have to gather a crew and head out to see Monsters are Waiting when they hit the local live spots.