Welcome to the world of San Francisco’s Return To Mono. The formula will be familiar to those who followed indie-dance music in the late 1990’s. The trio are made up of two balding DJ types whilst their music is given voice by the distinguished presence of Tanya Kelleher.
‘Song Of The Beast’ is an arresting opener as Kelleher emerges from a crunchy mix of beats, bleeps and guitars with a cracking chorus. Similarly impressive is the title track where Kelleher’s staccato vocal techniques represents a captivating USP. It’s at this point when you realise Kelleher’s time as a nanny for Butch Vig’s child creates a nice link between Return To Mono’s style and Vig’s own dance-rock hybrid, Garbage.
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be charmed by ‘The Promise’ as its breakbeats circle around the colourful ambient soundscapes, or indeed the excellent ‘Seeker Circuit’, which is edgy and hook-filled. After this, the band have a tendency to consolidate their formula and anonymous chill-out numbers like ‘Dreamer’ and ‘See You On The Other Side’ are indicative of album which gradually runs out of ideas towards the end.
Although ‘Framebreaker’ will seem like a step back in time for those who listen to it, for the first half of the record at least, they keep the arrangements fresh and inventive. Furthermore, in the form of Kelleher, they have a frontwoman with a great versatility.