Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate unknown, is the 1997 debut album Music For Pleasure by British Rock duo, Monaco. Will this album be a Pleasure to hear, or will it be too Sweet and sickly? Read on…
This 10 track CD opens with the duo’s hit lead single What Do You Want From Me?. From the moment that the little guitar riff arrives, you can smell the New Order pedigree in this song, courtesy of Peter Hook. Whilst the track gallops along perfectly, and gives us a really catchy chorus and ‘la la la la’ lyrical sequence, the vocals in the verse are a little low and flat, but that’s okay because the rest of the song really pays off enough to cover that part. It effortlessly flows along, even with the roaring guitar solo that’s followed by the synth strings, all of which are punctuated by an occasional heavy kick drum. The track reached #11 in the UK singles chart, robbed of a worthy top 5 position.
Third and final single Shine follows this, and this opens with guitar that feels like it’s trying to sing the lyrics, but then Peter appears on the mic to show it how it’s done. This track doesn’t continue that catchiness, instead straying closer to the lovesick youth with a guitar and amp genre.
By contrast Sweet Lips follows this, and throws you straight into some semi-disco dance track. It’s an odd shift that almost made me wonder if this was a parody, courtesy of the confusing Right Said Fred styled deep vocals. This song is vocally car crash, but musically it’s quite a catchy delight, and it just keeps evolving further and further away from the sound of the two tracks we’ve just heard before it. When this hit the singles chart, the UK gave it a #18 peak, perhaps equally as confused.
Buzz Gum follows this, easing in with faded in with reversed synth effects before an electric guitar takes over and takes command. This time we’re in a pseudo-Oasis vocal style (think Wonderwall and Whatever). Musically though, it once again is slick and delivered with seeming ease, but the song sounds almost as a pastiche of Oasis.
Next up is Blue and this takes the mood and tempo down somewhat, and this track has some wonderful sounds within it, backed with synth strings and some very heartfelt lyrics. It’s a plodder, but it’s a nice measured track, and that suits the vocal delivery.
Junk follows this, opening with a synth that sounds like it’s going to deliver another thumping dance track, but instead a brooding synth arrives to gurgle loudly as a racing light dance beat drops in. It’s soon joined by some house piano, snares, and eventually that bass drum. This all bursts to give some kind of camp heavenly anthem straight out of 1993 (and very much like Felix’s hit Don’t You Want Me). Eventually those vocals arrive, sounded more like Beloved this time, but lingering in the background rather than taking front seat to this dance track. If you don’t like this song, then you might like less that it lasts 9 minutes and 15 seconds.
There’s a wonderful beat on Billy Bones, and Peter’s aloof vocals sit on top alongside a swaggering guitar borrowed from a James Bond theme. The track evolves nicely, giving a more fuller formed tuneful song. It is suitably miserable for a Bond Theme, and the miserable vocals lend itself perfectly. The dramatic string synths make it sound like it’s certainly from something more epic than just track 7 on a debut album.
Happy Jack follows this, and the track is bright and catchy, and this feels to some degree similar in style to the lead single and opening track What Do You Want From Me? It’s a welcome relief, and it delivers a cheerful and playful song that really should have been a single.
Seemingly continuing on the cheerfulness is Tender, which even manages to find some female backing vocalists to join in. ‘Don’t play with me unless it’s for real’ we hear before the downbeat chord descending melody takes us to lovelorn youth territory again. Thankfully the song does lift a bit, and gives a fairly catchy little foot tapper of a song.
The album closes with 6m 53s of Sedona (or so it seems), opening with synth and guitar. Musically it’s a nice enough track, and it’s an instrumental, saving us from some sad or scorned lover vocals, but it does meander a fair amount. It feels like filler. There’s even a 1 minute silence at the end of this track, that actually doesn’t provide any additional value, apart from the cheeky ‘Oi, you can turn it off now’.
Over all, this album is a confusing mess of songs.
Independently, the album has some great music on it, but the vocals fall short. The mess comes from them being thrown together seemingly haphazardly. Highlights come in the form of What Do You Want From Me?, Sweet Lips, Happy Jack, and Blue, but each one is very different.
Needless to say which single enticed you to buy this album, you probably ended up disappointed due to the album’s dual personality of annoyed indie rock, and pulsating dance tracks, all of which are set to a disappointingly b-list timid and miserable vocalist who can rarely deliver the power when it’s needed.
- POP RESCUE 2022 RATING: 2 / 5
- 1997 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #11
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.49 from an eBay seller.