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Mon Frere - Blood, Sweat, and Swords Review

by Rob Nipe

Mon Frere draws undeniable comparisons to another a band, Mates of State. Both bands are fronted by women and rely heavily on keyboards and drums.  The two bands diverge in their sound though. Mates of State has a phrenetic, almost ADD approach to music that seamlessly jumps from one melody to another without any awkwardness. Mon Frere takes a decidedly more straight forward rock approach. And it is disappointing. I don't think the fault lies in Mon Frere as much as it does myself for denying the band that is my brother to stand apart from Mates of State. Bad, Rob, bad.

The album opens with "YMMWDSB." The keyboard delicately picks out a falling melody. The fifth time it repeats the bass (the other main difference between Mates of State and Mon Frere) kicks in and the song takes off. "You make me wanna destroy something beautiful / You make me wanna curl up in a ball and die." The angst created by high school was apparently too much to forget. Everything is in place and it all looks too pretty. I just don't believe that this girl is going to destroy anything let alone something that is beautiful. Courtney Love on the other hand has a room of beautiful things that she keeps just to destroy. 

The problem I think in this song and the rest of the album is also the main difference with the two bands. Mon Frere relies on the bass part to move a song along. The keyboard takes a back seat. This is never more apparent than in "You Don't Mind". The bass plays this syncopated rhythm that the keyboard just plays around. And it doesn't complement the bass line as much as it just fills in the space in-between. And when you only have three instruments besides a voice, one of those shouldn't be filling out your sound. This is a solid, if unremarkable, first album. 

[ed note: Mon Frere does not have a bass player. All bass parts heard are the left hand on the keyboard.]

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