With their debut album as Monty Are I and their first deal with a record label, ProvidenceÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”No Longer LocalÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? band of 2006 puts Rhode Island on the map. Not only does it do that, but it gives the smallest state in the country a very large and commanding voice. The unveiling of Wall of People is sure to attract a huge amount of attention in 2006-07. However, because six tracks from the bandÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s previous release as Monty reappear on this 11-song full-length, it is questionable whether Monty Are I has hidden enough tricks up their sleeves to keep old fans entertained.
The album begins with a familiar song, Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Between the Sheets,Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? which if you didnÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t know, actually has enough voltage to jumpstart your heart. Its persistent machine-gun beats hammer the song forward with dynamic horns and Coheed-like squealing guitars in key parts of the song. Vocally, it could be reminiscent of the menacing voice of Claudio Sanchez, except that lead singer/guitarist Steve Aiello sings with more vigor and passion. At the same time, trumpeter/vocalist Ryan Muir adds convincing echoes and harmonies to the mix. Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Between the SheetsÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? stands out as being the most energetic song on the disc.
While the momentum created by the opener is carried through the next four songs, there are enough rests to catch your breath. Second on the track list is the heroic song Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Castle Bound,Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? whose 8-bit Nintendo-style introduction and uplifting chorus enhance lyrics about rescuing a damsel in distress. Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Dublin WaltzÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? makes a big first impression with a momentous beginning complete with orchestra-sounding synth noises, which does not lose its effect throughout the entire song. During parts, this same song slows down to a quiet tiptoe. Also making its first appearance, Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Anchor and HopeÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? does not leave the same kind of impact. Using the same hook and chorus with little variation, it strikes me as repetitious. Its redeeming quality is a short-lived electronic breakdown halfway through, which showcases producer Matt SquireÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s skill. Track five on the CD, Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”O Brother,Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? obliterates any exhaustion I felt during the previous song with a perfectly arranged bridge and chorus honoring soldiers of war, before cleverly shifting into a beautiful choir at the end.
Then something interesting happens. Some real maturity is shown with the story behind Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Island City,Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? which acts like a slow intermission, and the following song, Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Metropolis.Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? A connection between them is suggested by the reflective, piano-based outro of Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Island CityÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? that makes a seamless transition into the more driven Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”MetropolisÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? and gets repeated again at its conclusion. Unfolding a story in back-to-back songs, these gems might have given Wall of People a new facet, except that theyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ve been heard before on The Red Shift.
With the criticism they could have expected, youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢d have thought Monty Are I would have chosen one of their new songs to be their first single, but they did not. I would pick them apart for this, but for the fact that Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”In This LegacyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? is so damn good. The single has a similar tempo to Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Between the Sheets,Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? however it makes use of a wider range of sounds and the vocals are even more powerful. If you only hear one song by Monty Are I, let this be the one.
Improving the value of the CD are three newly christened songs at the end. Yet the question remains for those who own The Red Shift: Is having five new songs worth paying for a full-length? While the answer needs ultimately to be decided by you, I will say that Wall of People is truly a significant album, cohesive from start to finish, and the freshly recorded tracks are just as masterfully done as the old six.
1. Between the Sheets
2. Castle Bound
3. Dublin Waltz
4. Anchor and Hope
5. O Brother
6. Island City
8. In This Legacy
9. Just in Time
10. Tie Off Your Veins
11. Only the Weak