The seven songs of You’ve Created A Monster reflect a smattering of styles. The loose thread tying all the songs together is the band’s instrumentation, which combines the typical guitars, bass and drums with horns, strings, keyboards, and an accordion. But while the different instruments give a variety of flavours, the song arrangements ultimately suffer from an attempt to throw everything the band has into the mix at once.
Opening song Love Is The Path To Self-Destruction is a perfect example. It starts out with droning guitars, stabbing strings, and a driving beat. A soft verse section reminiscent of Arcade Fire allows Jodie Lowther to introduce herself with some forceful words: “You turn a gentleman into a bitter old man with a secret identity.”
But the song then leads into some roaring horn riffs over distorted guitars and bombastic cymbal crashes. The tune about a self-destructive love unravels itself when it transforms into a mid-’90s ska/punk song. The balance is immediately off – horns and guitars compete for attention and neither win.
Similarly, Now We’re Making Out busts out with a dirty pop-rock guitar riff fitting of the poppier songs from The Hold Steady. But once again, horns jump in to muck things up. With a little trimming and arranging, these songs could really soar. But as they stand, the elements combine clumsily into a disjointed fog. Now We’re Making Out unnaturally slides in and out of a reggae section, a pop chorus, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones-type ska/punk horn riffs.
Even slower songs like Bonfires, Cinnamon Taste, and The Plot seem overdone. Once you get settled into a soft grove, a gaudy trumpet solo blasts through the song and the drums start to shake nervously. It’s as if Brontosaurus Chorus won’t even trust themselves to play a soft, beautiful tune without injecting it with a bit of bombasity.
Simple tunes like David Bowie come off better. A bouncy trumpet introduces a simple pop-punk song that never gets too complicated. It hints at the prospect of an enjoyable live performance, which might be the key to enjoying this recording. If you’ve already been taken in by the live energy of Brontosaurus, it’d be easy to forgive some inconsistencies in their album.
Some bigger groups are able to skilfully incorporate a range of instrumentation (Broken Social Scene and God Speed! You Black Emperor come to mind), but this is Brontosaurus Chorus’ first time out. It makes sense that a new group will need time to grow, and given that these songs show off the band’s versatility and musicianship, there should be a lot in store for these promising indie rockers.