Since appearing in the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll, and winning the Brand New for 2011 title at the MTV Awards, the Nashville 4-piece Mona have gone from strength to strength. Their debut album, ‘Mona’ was released in May 2011 and was accompanied with the following blurb on their website:
“The only thing slick about Mona is their hair. The rest is arm-pumping, vein-throbbing, knee-jittering, raw-throated, singalong rock’n’roll.”
Opening with ‘Cloak and Dagger’, Nick Brown proclaims:
Come like secret dances, show me the shadows of your mind
Take me to a place where there are things you’ve tried to hide
Come like cloak and dagger, show me the madness in your stance
I’m just trying to understand
The first track sets the tone for an album of stadium rock tracks, which at their worst, could end up on ‘drive time’ compilation albums…but at their best, are the real deal.
‘Teenager’ is the third track to be released as a single, and one of the strongest on the album, lamenting on the adolescent need to look up and identify with something bigger than themselves.
When you’re young, when you’re young and you’re just a teenager
Wait little chump yeah you wait a little later
Grow up, you grow up and keep all the anger
Come in a lover, you’re leaving a hater
‘Lines In The Sand’ is an epic, screaming ballad, which demands to be heard. Nick’s vocals soar right off the scale as the chorus kicks in.
It’s cold outside, you’re alone tonight
It’s cold outside
Before I get too carried away talking about how good this album is, I should point out that there’s an elephant in the room. A big Caleb Followill-shaped elephant. Mona sound A LOT like Kings of Leon.
Listen to ‘Crawl‘ (on 2008’s Only By The Night) and ‘Say You Will’ back-to-back and you’ll see what everyone is talking about. OK, there’s a touch of U2 in there, but the comparisons are so obvious that, at times, Mona sound like a tribute band. Which is a great shame, because Nick Brown’s vocals are arguably even stronger than Caleb’s. Raw, soaring and soulful, they’re the perfect example of how a deep south rock band should sound. Whilst Kings of Leon took 3 albums to achieve ‘stadium filling anthem’ status, Mona are there on their first effort.
In all fairness, fans of Kings of Leon’s early work are still going to love this (mainly because Mona’s debut is a damn sight better than Kings of Leon’s lacklustre Come Around Sundown). I’m sure that fans of KOL’s recent stuff will simply think it’s a copycat effort.
If you don’t buy the album, download Lines In The Sand, Say You Will and Teenager.