The album starts with a song that in both title and sound reminds me a little bit of Death Cab For Cutie. Houses Made Of Stained Glass is a very ambitious track with influences ranging from electro-pop, rock & roll and pure alternative pop. It has the right hooks and the great energy that belongs to a band like July For Kings. It’s a great introduction into this album that marks the return of this widely underrated rock band.
Next up is the lead single Say It Now which was released through the internet last year. It’s probably the most poppy song on the album, but it’s drive and catchy rhythms make it a song that sticks with you. Not the band’s most impressive song, but definitely worthy of its spot on the album.
We then hear Fighting Fire which is a most impressive song and definitely ranks among the top tracks on this album. It is certainly catchy and rocks quite hard still. It’s a little more sped up and sounds like a better and more polished version of Anberlin and July For Kings gets everything out of this track. Fighting Fire has a familiar ring to it and that might help it if the band decides to release this to radio. It surely has the potential, especially on rock radio. Six Hour Drive is an old friend for the people who’ve followed JFK around. It was released after “Nostalgia” came out. It didn’t make the album cut for “Nostalgia” but the song grew out to a fan favorite in no time and the band has played the song live several times. While I still cling to the old version of the song, which rocked a little more and was more straight-forward, this slicker (though slightly overproduced) version is starting to get to me too. The song just has something, and especially because the fans already know the song and its lyrics, it still has that sing-along quality that it always had. Though in my opinion the ‘rawness’ of the original version fitted the song even better.
The rock & roll greatness in Emma was a very pleasant surprise to me. I didn’t expect this track to appear on the album. I heard raw demo versions of this song before and it sounded quite different from the end result. And I must say that I am very impressed with the way Emma turned out. It is a rock classic in the making. It’s a song that will be interesting for fans on the Green Day side of the spectrum as well as for fans on the Snow Patrol/Air Traffic side of the spectrum, as well as for the fans of pure rock & roll.
Roses sounds like such a sweet title but the song doesn’t sound all that sweet. It’s one of the heavier songs on the album that is reminiscent of the old days of July For Kings. It’s a little more alternative and the sound is a bit more haunting. It had to grow on me before I fully appreciated it, but the song is definitely one of the better rock songs of the past 3-4 years.
I instantly fell in love with 100 Pianos. The catchy music and the strong hooks give this song a big label with ‘radio single’. I know many people will disagree with me on this one, but I have complete fate that this is a potential hit for July For Kings. The percussion/drums hold a steady beat and Hedges’ excellent vocals just invite you into the song and it sure has the hooks to stick with you. And then there’s the next song, Falling which is just fun and the infectious synth and interesting vocal arrangement add to its character. It’s not the best song on the album, but it definitely adds to the album’s diversity and quality.
The album continues with the energetic Like A City which sounds exactly like you would typify July For King’s sound. Great build up, solid rock hooks and a potential to dominate rock radio. It has that typical familiar sound that JFK embraces and you know that you can’t resist. This is no doubt gonna be a radio single.
Next up is my favorite song probably. Sam just has that quality that’s hard to explain or disect. The passionate performance by July For Kings, and especially Joe Hedges gives you the feeling of relating to the song. I had the same thing when I first heard their song ‘One by One’ but the feeling’s even stronger with Sam. I still haven’t decided if it sounds more like a band song or a singer/songwriter song, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a flat-out good song.
And the album ends with a high note. Right the first time I listened to the album I said to myself:’My, that’s one heck of a song’. And that pretty much sums it up. It’s July For Kings in top form.
I’ve always been a fan of July For Kings and they didn’t have to convince me anymore. But with “Monochrome” they impressed me very much. My expectations were high, and I was thinking they might be too high, but they easily met my standards and just to prove their worth, they went beyond that and delivered maybe the best release of 2009 so far.