April 07, 2002

Monster Movie "Last Night Something Happened"

Do you remember those heady days after the levee broke on the underground, shortly after the release of Nevermind? It seemed, if for a brief moment, that "alternative" was the big new thing in terms of music, and that all of these odd little bands could very well achieve something greater than small club play and "cult" status. Sure, we all know that this was not to be, and that most of those bands were lucky to play only one show on the second stage at Lollapalooza and were even luckier if anyone actually bought their record afterwards.

Hindsight tells us now that such dreams would never, could never come to pass. Lots of broken hopes and dreams can be found in most bargain bins of any mom-and-pop record store. While there are many bands who populate that graveyard, there are quite a few hidden gems to be found in the rock-bottom racks. One of those bands is Slowdive--a noisy, melodic, and beautiful band whose place in history has been sealed quite nicely next to such shoegazing greats as My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, House of Love, and Lush--you know, gone but fortunately not completly forgotten. While Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell, the leader and tamborine/backing vocalist of Slowdive went on to form the stoner-country-folk-rock band Mojave 3, and the others seemed to fall by the wayside in the annals of music history.

Monster Movie, however, marks the return of Christian Savill (from the aforementioned Slowdive) and scene veteran Sean Hewson. On listening to Last Night Something Happened, it doesn't feel like either have been away very long. While Mojave 3 strayed away from the shoegazer trail, Monster Movie haven't, and it's pretty good to know that there are vets from that scene who are still interested in pursuing the sounds. Though Last Night Something Happened is following very closely along the shoegaze/dreampop history of both men, I don't think Monster Movie sound anything like Slowdive. The singing does, at times, remind me of former Pale Saints lead singer Ian Masters, especially on "Shortwave" and "Take Me Away." In fact, if anything, they owe their sound to In Ribbons-era Pale Saints.

Of course, regardless of whether or not Monster Movie sound like Slowdive or Pale Saints or a church choir, nothing can deny the fact that Last Night Something Happened is a most lovely little record, full of quiet atmospherics, cooing crooning, and gentle instrumental melodies. You can't help but feel a little bit of warmth from this duo, whose collaboration has dated over ten years. This is their debut album, and it's a clear sign that good things come to those who wait, and no matter what their other bands sounded like, Monster Movie is a band that clearly stands on its own.

--Joseph Kyle

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