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monoinc terlingua
Artist: Mono Inc.
Title: Terlingua
Genre: Dark Rock
Release Date: 22nd May 2015
Label: NoCut

Album Review

Eight albums in, and MONO INC. have decided it’s time to create their own ‘Joshua Tree’ album. A debut gig in the USA and a short break in that vast country afterwards, inspired them to try and capture this widescreen sense of space, loneliness and decaying beauty when they returned to their studio, back in Germany. Add in the sort of soul-searching middle aged men do when they stick a Stetson on and watch a sunset while listening to Johnny Cash, and that was pretty much the idea behind this themed album.

The dusty old stall is set out on the opening track, nicely twanging guitars, plenty of space between the instruments, a world-weary vocal, and of course a big chorus that shuffles with its cowboy boots on and wanders about moodily. There’s simply not enough of this though and the main problem becomes clear when the band stray too close to what they’ve always done instead of embracing this spirit of adventure and reassessment that could have made the album something truly special. Take ‘Still’, which contains some good old-fashioned Texan slide guitar but has it buried beneath the mounds of chugging and frankly boring guitar-work that plagues many of MONO INC’s lesser songs. Song titles like ‘It Never Rains’ promise much, and it’s not a bad song in itself, but lyrically it’s terribly clichéd. “It never rains out here, on this soil of broken dreams” would be fine if delivered in the passionate yelp of THE KILLER’s Brandon Flowers for example, who has Las Vegas and the desert running through his veins. And there’s another problem. Clearly impressed with their USA trip, there’s no sense it actually got under their skin and into their bones. Odd references here and there make for a loosely interesting feel, but too often it’s MONO INC by numbers, like on the horrible faux-metal clatter of ‘Die Noten Deines Lebens’.

There are moments when the ideas and textures they brought back with them are given space to flourish. Take the BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN-esque ‘Ghost Town Gates’, which is simple, atmospheric and disarmingly charming. Or on ‘Tag X’, which was chosen as a single. It’s a perky little thing, joyously resisting the urge to go for something massive, keeping things busy but contained. It’s a great pop song. So what else is thrown in? There’s a big optimistic sunrise moment in ‘An Klaren Tagen’, some rather pointless eerie harmonica in brief instrumental ‘Emory Peak’ and lots more sheet-metal guitar and euro-bop synth predictability on ‘Love Lies’. There’s the title track, which at the beginning could have had Clint Eastwood riding into town, chewing a huge cigar, but ends up more a gang of lost tourists on motorbikes with a pack of Marlboro between them. And finally, a powerful vocal on the ghostly and quite beautiful ‘Study Butte’, a song which should have been the blueprint for this collection of songs, instead of being stuck on the end like an afterthought. It’s far too good to be jostling for space with the kind of bland, synth-rock songs that seem to have crawled out from behind too many cacti on ‘Terlingua’.

It seems that MONO INC know too well what their audience wants and expects, and have turned what could have been a bold and exciting experiment, into more of a cautious dabble, wandering for a few hours in the desert under the vast sky and with buzzards circling above, but knowing they’re going back to the hotel soon for air-conditioning, a relaxing soak in the bath, and a good salad. A pity.


01. Mondschein
02. Never-ending Love Song
03. Heiland
04. It Never Rains
05. Tag X
06. 118
07. Still
08. Die Noten Deines Lebens
09. Ghost Town Gates
10. An Klaren Tagen
11. Emory Peak
12. Love Lies
13. Terlingua
14. Study Butte


Martin Engler – Vocals
Katha Mia – Drums
Carl Fornia – Guitars
Manuel Antoni – Bass

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Cover Picture

monoinc terlingua


Music: 5
Sound: 7
Total: 6 / 10

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