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Album Review

On its Vagrant debut, the Toronto quartet Moneen more fully indulges its mixture of emo dynamics with ambitious math rock songscapes. Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? is as musically grandiose as its lengthy title, die-cut packaging, and involved song titles and lyrics would suggest. Songs like "To Say Something That Means Nothing to Anyone at All" begin as a typical emo rocker, only to dissolve into an extended period of instrumental noodling. But the passage essentially becomes an extended bridge setting up a final, furious chorus. This is the drawback to Moneen's larger-than-life sound: Though the band succeeds at expanding emo's borders, it usually returns to the genre's hallmarks before too long. Sweeping choruses; high-pitched, interlocking vocals; and crashing guitars abound on Are We Really Happy, even if most songs take a few minutes to slow things down, drop in piano, and generally pad the proceedings with melodrama. The quartet's songs, voices, and playing are as tight as anything from veterans like the Get Up Kids or fellow newcomers such as hardcore/emo fusionists Silverstein. But in its zeal to reach great new heights in emo, Moneen ends up stalling out in simply good territory. The searching, often acerbic lyricisms; rousing melodies; and most of the album's extended instrumental experiments should appeal to fans eager for something more than the same old heartbreak-married-to-ringing-guitars formula. But for Moneen itself, Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? might represent another few steps toward something truly exceptional.


Formed: 1999 in Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Toronto's emo quartet Moneen began with vocalists/guitarists Kenny Bridges and Chris Hughes, bassist Mark Bowser, and drummer Peter Krpan. Moneen formed in 1999 after the dissolution of Perfectly Normal, and released their debut EP, The Smaller Chairs for the 1900s, the following year on Smallman Records. In 2001, they finally put out their first full-length, the ten-song Theory of Harmonial Value. Along the way, Erik Hughes joined in on bass, and in 2003 Moneen returned with Are We Really Happy...
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Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?, Moneen
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