There’s so much to like about the self-titled debut from Tacoma, Washington’s Mono in VCF, it’s hard to know where to start. As a debut, it’s almost too good. Mono in VCF aren’t just out to make music, they’re out to truly impress, to bowl us over, and let’s face it â€” that kind of ambition sets itself up for serious schadenfreude.
The album is largely shoegaze and trip-hop inspired but on a more sweeping, cinematic, grand scale, if you can believe it. The group invites a lot of comparisons to bands like Portishead and Massive Attack, but it lacks the side effect of disconnectedness that can often result from the icy demeanor of those kinds of bands. And too many dream-pop bands are dreamlike in their composition: random, complex, and hard to judge where they’re going. Mono in VCF, however, compose real songs with real structure and come out better for it.
Mono in VCF, “The Only One” (download)
On the trip-hop side of things, “The Only One” and “In Los Angeles” come the closest but are still far from the hurdle of completely crossing over to that side. There are a few odd ducks â€” “Key to the House” is more psych-folk than anything else, and “There’s No Blood in Bone” is wild when compared to the rest â€” but overall the album works as an album. Most of it is perfectly serene, and the most sultry, most reverb-drenched songs are the ones that Mono in VCF pull off the best â€” “Masha” and “Escape City Scrapers,” in particular.
Mono in VCF, “Escape City Scrapers” (download)
Frontwoman Hunter Lea has the perfect voice for the music they’re creating, able to slip into a slightly raspy near-whisper, a female psych singer’s lower register and shriek (though she uses the latter sparingly). One of her male counterparts backs her up regularly and even takes over vocal duties on parts of “In Los Angeles,” but it’s as if the music is built around Lea’s voice, like some sort of sonic glove.
Mono in VCF are releasing their record through various digital outlets, and physically with help from a few smaller enterprises (both of which can be found through their MySpace profile) â€” but when a band’s this good, it’s only a matter of time until they’re scooped up onward to bigger things. They have only a short way to go until they hit better things as well, and it’s going to be an exciting journey to listen to.