Return to Mono: Framebreaker

Return to Mono: Framebreaker
San Francisco electro-pop trio, Return to Mono have been preparing to release their new album Framebreaker for seemingly months; news of the new album first crossed my desk during the summer of 2010. Since that time the album suffered numerous setbacks and release date changes until its ultimate release today (a Thursday release date, weird, right?).
Framebreaker shows Return to Mono mixing 90s alternative rock with modern electro-pop to create a sound that is both modern and has a strong root in music of the past. Combine the musical influences with Tanya Kelleher’s vocals and the band reminds me of what Garbage could have been had they not gone on their long lay off in 2003. It is hard not to listen to “Seeker Circuit” and think of Garbage. The track bounces between light-electronic verses and guitar-blasted choruses that is reminiscent of “I Think I’m Paranoid.”
But not every track is hearkening back to Garbage; other tracks seem to take their cue from modern downtempo. “Dreamer” has a Portishead feel to it. Unfortunately, I don’t think the downtempo path is quite right for Return to Mono. The group seems much more comfortable with the 90s alternative route.
The most successful track on the album is probably the album’s opener “Song Of The Beast.” The track actually does not take a downtempo nor a 90s alternative approach. The track is much more dance influenced with a strong dance drum beat and well placed guitar blasts on the chorus. This seems like the most appropriate direction for the band to move in. Unfortunately it is really the only track on the album of this caliber.
Overall, Framebreaker is not a bad album but it seems to be mired in uncertainty. The album feels a little directionless bouncing between dance tracks, guitar-centric anthems, and downtempo slow jams The group seems to have the talent to be able to make any of these genres work but their waffling between genres works against them on the album, in my opinion.
Rating: 4.8/10
MP3: Return to Mono “Song of the Beast”

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