New Music: Monomyth’s ‘Happy Pop Family’

Monomyth’s  second album ‘Happy Pop Family’ is being released on Vancouver’s Mint Records today , and it’s a long slow swirl into bittersweet introspective melancholia, but you know, the happy kind you can dance to.

The album covers a lot of bases: Indie Pop, Slacker Pop, Noise Pop, Power Pop, Twee Pop. Basically in self-aware fashion (hence the title) the whole pop family gets worked in there somehow. Contrary to what that might suggest, working within that vein has left a lot of wiggle room.

The album’s opening track, ‘Aloha’ is as straight forward as it gets: the modern offspring of what sounds like The Beach Boys and The Smiths. The Smith Boys go to The Beach. Both geniuses with an ability to dress up some fairly damaged psyches as something bright and playful. Despite the tentatively upbeat opening to ‘Aloha’, the album launches in with the lyrics “I want to be hated in my hometown / I want to be despised,” assuring us the band are coming to us from a place as outsiders, but content in that role. If this were the 80’s they’d be wearing a lot of eye-liner.

The themes of isolation and sadness disguised in pretty packages run rampant throughout the album. Even the genuinely upbeat songs like ‘High On Sunshine’ and ‘Go Somewhere’, which admittedly are only upbeat in the sense that they romanticize escapism, get flipped on their head with off-kilter melodies. ‘Falling In Love’ is a catchy little jingle, but still manages to twist the knife by specifying, “Because I’m falling in love with you again,” suggesting there’s more to the story. Is this a reconciliation? Is it a tale of romance and amnesia? What’s the story here?

The album goes on to contradict itself with ‘New Year’s Resolution’: “I’m in love with my home town, and that’s no lie”, which either makes them liars, masochists, or just inconsistent. Josh Salter explains that despite their tongue-in-cheek claim that they remain the undisputed leading purveyors of mid-fi anthemic bedroom pop, the inconsistencies might be due to Monomyth being more collective ensemble than powerhouse team. This is the first full album to include Scott Grundy (Heaven For Real / Quaker Parents) on drums and Andrew Mazerolle (Muncho Joe). The result means there’s a lot of people bringing something to the table.

“Purveyors seems more mechanical: factory-like. It’s a short line. I mean bands fluctuate. We’ve all played together in different bands before though. We are used to it, we’ve played with a bunch of peeps, so yeah, I guess it is natural because it is what happened. We all write our own parts though, for the most part. Whatever serves the song. ”

Ultimately the album finds its unity in whatever distinctive blend Seamus Dalton and Josh Salter bring to the mix. The band’s two most stable components also belong to 2016 Polaris Prize nominee, Nap Eyes, and there’s an undeniably strong crossover to the sound. Grundy even filled in for Nap Eyes during their Euopean tour. It’s all just more of a good thing, though Salter makes a comparison of the two bands to apples and oranges, “I like a good orange better than a good apple. It has to do with what you prefer. I mean an orange pie would probably suck.”

‘Happy Pop Family’ closes out with the track ‘Fuck With Me’, a song about lost love, and the culmination of the album incrementally drifting from the pop-haven of ‘Aloha’ towards the neo-psychedelic garage pop sound reminiscent of The Vines, while lyrically quoting The Human League. Short and sweet, but conveniently placed at the end of the album, it’s at the perfect point to hit the repeat button. Inevitably, it happens.