I listened to Run River North‘s Drinking from a Salt Pond a lot when it released. Articles about the band’s history and how their second album came together were interesting. It was also during that time I was able to see the band live a couple of times.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the band released a couple of singles before releasing Monsters Calling Home, Vol.1. As a call back to their former name and, in a way, a reboot of their sound, the EP takes the foundation of the last album and also adds an evolution of band’s sound. With three members, it might have been possible that the signature style might be lost, but the opposite has happened. The music feels more open and free.
“Hands Up” might be the conversion between Drinking from a Salt Pond and Monsters Calling Home, Vol. 1. It has all the elements from the previous album, but adds smaller elements that become more prominent in the later songs. “Casina” as the second song fully welcomes you into this new era of Run River North. The repeating synth line is different from previous songs and gives the song this freedom. Once the chorus jumps in, it adds so much more energy.
Alex Hwang‘s lead vocals guide all the songs, but Sally Kang takes more control than her previous time as the secondary vocalist. I like hearing her voice solo on these songs and think her place as a vocalist adds more dimension to the music overall. The experimentation on “Casina” sounds like the band spent a lot of time figuring out how to create songs without the input of so many people and trust themselves.
“40g” uses a funk bass line to start the sound before going full into a strange psychedelic rock song. I don’t think this is where the band will fully go in their style, but the experimentation shows that the band is getting a lot of ideas recorded. “Rearview” is an electronic pop mixed with indie rock song. It takes a lot of indie rock standards before moving into a bright chorus that’s supported through live instruments and keyboard support.
Listening to Monsters Calling Home, Vol. 1, it seems that the band is reborn. As a former six member band, there were a lot of different perspectives into the music. In its current roster, it feels like there’s a weight removed and the trio is able to go in any direction they want. Regardless if the song matches what Run River North did before doesn’t matter. Instead the band is looking forward.