I was glad to see Monni go back to their electro-rock style for Follow My Voice. Kim Shin Eui has a powerful voice and charisma to match his band mates’ energy, making Monni a great live band. That said, Follow My Voice, the band’s fourth record, is an uneven mess.
The day the record became available, I bought it and gave it a listen. I liked it, but the next time I listened to the LP was a month later. Preparing for this review, it dawned on me why; the first half sucks. The first five tracks suffer from a myriad of problems, ranging from odd genre choices, Kim Shin Eui not going all the way, the band not playing to their best potential, or just trying too hard to fit the synth-dance mold that’s so popular.
The lead single, “In A Moment,” is emblematic of this, with solos clashing with vocalizations, a flat effect from Shin Eui, and lame use of synth. That the beginning of Follow My Voice is mired in awful production choices is unfortunate, because the rest more than makes up for the terrible start.
From the start of “Tears Run Dry,” with that magnificent shout, Monni starts in earnest, with an urgency that was missing before this. Shin Eui nails the progression and the band kills. The light disco number, “Laughing For A While,” strikes the right balance between rock and synths, with great bass guitar work by Lee Yin Kyoung and cool “ooh-ooh” vocal loops, as well as light synth touches to liven things up.
The ballads “Snowball,” “One Eyed Fish,” and “Home” are fabulous, period. Shin Eui’s falsetto ushers in the shoegaze-y approach of the band, resulting in a ballad that could easily have been a throwaway, but shines with emotion. The soft pacing of “One Eyed Fish” against his full voice is fantastic, a contrast rarely heard in string ballads. The album’s closer, “Home,” is schmaltzy and cheesy, a rock power ballad if I ever heard one.
Here’s the thing though; “Home” is the best track on Follow My Voice. Monni excels when all the elements go full force. Large sweeping strings, pounding drums, melancholic piano and soaring guitars give Shin Eui the opportunity to over-sing, but he doesn’t take it. Instead of a full throated, Celine Dion-esque finish, the band ends in an all-in, “can you take me home” refrain. The ballad, though an intentional heart-string tugger, is the perfect way to close an EP with such a title.
Monni’s Follow My Voice is back heavy, with the first half filled with stilted attempts at music. Only with the call-to-arms shout that begins “Tears Run Dry” does the band get going, sounding exceptional. The disco shimmer of “Laughing For A While” blends Monni’s rock and electronics without overpowering either one, and the reverb effects on “Snowball” provide a great melancholy to the somber ballad. Both the acoustic guitar-driven “One Eyed Fish” and the schmaltzy power ballad, “Home,” show Monni’s ease in delivering pop ballads. Sequencing aside, Follow My Voice is a great rock LP, if you start at its latter half.