The debut MonArk album Negatives (out on Universal Music South Africa) comes with serious acclaim. Before you even consider the opinions of this review, the Potch cinematic pop 5-piece release is currently number 1 on the iTunes Album Chart.
And in addition, the first two singles on the MonArk album, Smiling (track 4) and Build It Up (track 3), have both hit 5FM Charts as well as prime spots on the lower end of charts on Jacaranda FM, Highveld, KFM et al.
But, is there anything wrong with it?
The most realistic angle on life’s events
They say you get a lifetime to create your first and only so much time to do your second. This is MonArk’s first.
Vocalist Eugene Coetzer teamed up band guitarist, Ewald Jansen van Rensburg, to produce and shape the aesthetic. According to the members, MonArk Negatives shares stories of life and love – in Eugene’s words: “the most realistic angle on life’s events.”
Slow epic starts and poetic arrows
A slow start gives way to swish sway of synths and melodramatic beats, everything feels vulnerable. Everyone’s young and on the edge. These poetic arrows are explained in full colour on track 3 (Build It Up):
“We can build it up / when you’re losing all control / so give a little bit oh / give a little bit of your soul.”
You might argue that the MonArk album sounds like anything from your token 5FM band. Epic, poppy and kind of American (with social media these days, who knows who came up with what first). But there’s no questioning their commitment. It’s sung and played with all the ballsy gusto you’d expect on any classic. They fully believe in themselves, and as a result it’s easy for you to do the same.
The perfect traffic-buster and cover of someone you love to hate
You Make (track 7), one of MonArk’s personal favourites and considered by the band as “the perfect traffic-buster,”will help set you at ease with sweet refrain on a demanding day with buoyant guitars and cheerful vocals.
But before the MonArk album story is completely told with A Moment (track 15) – with its delightfully modest start, using muted guitars, and club oomph chorus the song is an apt hoorah and farewell to MonArk’s debut – there’s a cover of Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around (track 14)…
It would be fine (not really), but give your sister the blind listener test and she’ll swear by her grave its Justin Timberlake. Not cool. Forgive them this and you might have a winner.
MonArk album – the moral of the story
What makes the MonArk album standout from it’s fellow indie minions of yesteryear and that dead horse we call the blues revival, is that they have done the unthinkable – creating a good pop album that’s epic and one 5FM will beg for. Time and time again.