Though their debut EP, If Only You Knew, was enjoyable and was run on a fuel of great potential, it did not really remove UK melodic punks Montrose from the heavy crowd of similar sounding bands. It was an aspect which seemingly the band also realised and strived to do something about, resulting in a far more powerful and unique offering in its successor Monster Under The Bed. There is still plenty of familiarity to the new EP, but with a grittier, more robust presence and structure to their pop punk bred enterprise, the Bath quartet are well on the way to becoming a distinct and, on the evidence of their fine release, an even more exciting proposition.
Monster Under The Bed opens with the outstanding Underperformer, a song instantly gripping ears and attention with its initial collusion of spidery grooves, punchy beats, and feisty riffs. It is a thumping coaxing which even when the song relaxes into a more restrained embrace for the entrance of Jason Bishop’s vocals continues to incite and lead a rousing flirtation through a similarly evolving guise. The dramatic swings of drummer Jake Matthews just stirs up air and song as guitarist Sam Chard expels some of the juiciest hooks and grooves you are likely to hear in a punk romp. The track is a blistering start and temptation to the EP, the kind of opening to get the blood rushing through veins and appetite greedily hungry.
The following song offers a more expected proposal of muscular pop punk, The End Game an equally accomplished offering but not quite having the bolder imagination and invention of its predecessor. Nevertheless with impassioned vocals and another brooding bassline from Ben Curd, the song has ears wholly content before Walking Contradiction takes the release back towards its opening plateau. Tenacious rhythms spear a muggier sonic air from the start but with smart moments of clarity to temper the sweltering climate, the track reveals a well thought out tapestry of melodic and sonic imagination aligned to its emotionally and physically tempestuous landscape.
The final three tracks of Monster Under The Bed steal the show, Montrose opening up Blush next with a tendril of spicy tempting from Chard around again pungent rhythms. It is a fiery coaxing which continues to lure as Bishop opens up his strong tones, a mellow caress of keys and warm ambience eventually sweeping over song and the senses. The rigorous and emotive stroll is soon back though, Montrose subsequently merging both in an intoxicating atmosphere whilst exploring a thrilling new terrain of spiky hooks and unpredictable adventure. The song is glorious, getting bolder and better with every passing minute and more compelling with every listen.
The same applies to Good Old Days, a treat clutching attention right away with a Hagfish like incitement before brewing an evocative wind of thick melodies within a slightly agitated atmosphere. It does not have the same startling ingenuity of the previous song, but stirs the senses and appetite impressively before the closing Fit For A King gets to work on the passions. Matthews casts a web of rhythmic addictiveness right away, his lone bait soon enticing a spiralling lure of guitar and a growling, bordering on grouchy bassline. Keys only add to the theatre and thick enticement smothering ears as they join the vocals in the increasingly broadening presence of the galvanic roar of a song. The track is a climatic end to a thoroughly invigorating release, one as exhilarating as it is exhausting on the senses
Bishop has said of Montrose, “We want to make sure we don’t get lost in the crowd,” and fair to say that Monster Under The Bed is definitely a big move to fulfilling that wish. It may not quite tear them far enough away from others yet but with another similar step on evolution ahead, there should be no mistaking or losing Montrose amongst a host of others in the punk field.
Monster Under The Bed is available now digitally at http://montroseofficial.bandcamp.com and physically @ http://montroseofficial.bigcartel.com/product/montrose-monster-under-the-bed-ep