Posted on June 22nd, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Nick Manai

Dave Monks’ work with Tokyo Police Club was always confessional, so it is little surprise that he would one day be releasing a solo album. All Signs Point To Yes is a simple EP about desperate men. Are there love-drenched clichés? Yes. Have you heard it all before? Probably. But there is something comforting about an EP whose aesthetic choices are so smooth, while its lyrical investment comes from a dire urge to communicate with someone who you love, or at least think you do. When Monks falters, it is usually from trying to come across as a little too pretty.

Notice the little bit of extra elbow grease put into the chorus on “Gasoline.” The piano that ripples forth is a nice addition, but Monks' harmony on the couplet “With the best of you and with best of me/We could start a fire without gasoline” sounds more than a little trite. He sounds more convincing when he’s speak-singing that he just needs “someone to rely on.”

There is some humor on the EP too, and it serves as a badly-needed injection of self-awareness for an artist always singing about crushes and loneliness from a perspective that never rules out high school as its burgeoning environment. “Cheerleaders hate me/Librarians too” Monks sings at the beginning of “Heartbeat Blues.” Behind a cool electric guitar the song is more false bravado than truly melancholic ruminations, but it isn’t meant to be taken for strict reality. After all, you’d have to guess that there’s at least one librarian with some sympathy for a broken heart.

An argument could probably be made for oblique experimentation on this EP. There are traditional acoustic singer-songwriter hooks, songs with more groove than chord, a piano ballad with baroque strings and the before-mentioned electric guitar. But all of these colors are so overwhelmingly confined to the same somber playfulness that they actually end up sounding the same. Rarely does the pulse ever head north of excited, plodding along slowly, not so much out of depressed lethargy, but rather for a sense of the picturesque. Indeed, there is never anything ugly to be reckoned with on Signs and that is truly to its detriment. There is no reason Monks has to pull a Blood on the Tracks-era Dylan howl, but to really stress the thematic material at play there could be a few more concrete objects of dejection to pull us along.

Track List:

  1. Vegas
  2. Gasoline
  3. The Rules
  4. Miss You
  5. Heartbeat Blues
  6. Summer Dream
Dave Monks: All Signs Point To Yes
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

47 / 100
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