One of the things that might surprise you when listening to Mona Feel’s debut EP Sun Diving is the amount of polish and compositional skill present, as well as the chemistry between parts; this sounds like the work of a band who has been together for years, not months. This is a true indie rock album that maintains the band’s signature sound throughout but leaves plenty of room for expansion and musical creativity.
Right away, you find that “Sun Diving” has a fun, funky beach beat. The vocalist does a good job jumping from midrange to higher notes and back again – making it sound effortless. The chords sound relatively simple but still provide a great foundation for the vocals, and the drums correspond well with the song, being sure not to stick to just one generic rhythm.
“Dustball” starts off more eerily, relying heavily on nuanced background noise to create the atmosphere. The vocal notes are lower as well, which are perfect for the mood. The low, heavy sound continues with the beginning of “Hard to Say” in moments that bring to mind feelings of quiet desperation, sadness, and the will to run away. The rest of the song, however, seems to be the answer to those feelings by providing a hopeful, encouraging outside perspective. This is an example of great storytelling in music, and shows how just a few guitar notes can effectively shape your perception of a particular song.
“Hands Untied” expands on the previous use of mood setting, relying on just the vocals this time with subtle background notes to get the song started. There is impressive guitar work here, with brief glances at a deliciously technical riff throughout. You almost want this sound to continue throughout the whole song, though its impact is arguably more pronounced in small doses. The intensity picks up as the drums join in, giving the pace a more steady march, then fades away just as smoothly as it started.
“Walkabout”, the last and shortest song on the EP, ends things on a more upbeat note. It’s a logical conclusion to this offering, but could just as easily appear in the middle of a full-length as a climactic song.
Sun Diving is an album that manages to capture a wide range of human emotion in just a few short songs, arranging them in an ebb and flow meant to deliver the greatest bang for your ear buck. I look forward to hearing how they will expand the direction of this EP. Mona Feel also plays live shows, and will be playing at the Subterranean in Chicago, IL at the end of January. After hearing this EP, I can only imagine how much energy they bring to the stage, and hope to see them live one day.
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