Mon Frere
"Blood, Sweat & Swords"

(Cake Records 2006)Mon Frere - Blood, Sweat & Swords

It is quite difficult to pinpoint Mon Frere's sound. The Seattle three-piece might have you believe they are a little pop punk based on light and twinkling keyboard melodies and singer Nouela Johnston's vocals that remind of Gwen Stefani back when she was a take charge frontwoman instead of a dance club pop star. But with full, heavy riffs that offer more than a hint of hard rock, as they drive the songs and win you over, Mon Frere certainly have more up their sleeves than you might think on their debut full-length, "Blood, Sweat & Swords."

Johnston's light keyboard melody balances out the digging riffs on the poppy "Y.M.M.W.D.S.B." (also known as "You Make Me Wanna Destroy Something Beautiful) and offers only a quick glance at what is to come. Guitarist Kyle Swisher adds a catchy, driving rhythm to "Drain" while a gritty riff ticks on "BigShot" before Mon Frere segue into electronic dance. Hand claps add to "You Don't Mind," as the band boogie down. Seemingly, Johnston spends the entire length of the album screaming, a technique that works well for some of the album, such as on "You Don't Mind," but also means the vocals have little variation or dynamic.

Mon Frere relies on their catchy rhythms and riffs to carry "Blood, Sweat & Swords" and what is more, it works. The band's ambition sometimes loses focus but Mon Frere offer a smart and tight debut that is interesting and fun. Mon Frere's "Blood, Sweat & Swords" more than establishes them as a band to watch.

B

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