Thursday, September 26, 2013
REVIEW: Montero - The Loving Gaze
If I had received an email from someone I didn't trust suggesting I evaluate a pop album from a band headed by a man who, in addition to being described as a songwriter and frontman, is a visual artist, comic book writer, and various other things, I might well have found a way to avoid the task. But in the case of The Loving Gaze, the debut LP from Melbourne's Ben Montero and his eponymous band, the email came from a person whose taste in music had been ably demonstrated to me. So, heedless of personal risk, I bravely waded into the album. My reward? Experiencing one of the more engaging pure pop albums I've heard this year. The lesson learned? Be brave, my children, be brave.
Thematically, The Loving Gaze is filled with whimsy, hope, love and a bit of fantasy. Musically, the tones are bright and the melodies upbeat, with abundant hooks and rainbow colors. With pure vocals and assured piano grounding the songs, and masterfully played guitar, synths and percussion, it uses the timeless pop sensibilities of The Beach Boys, The Association, Eric Carmen, Emitt Rhodes and other '60s-'70s pop and power ballad masters to tell modern stories that trod the ground inside the writer's head, as well as beneath his feet. And it is that particular, highly personalized and impressionistic perspective that makes this album, despite its pop/AM radio influences (from, it should be noted, pop/AM radio's golden years) a thoroughly modern experience.
So, dear readers, my recommendation to you is to give in to your inner pop yearnings. You know you want to, and The Loving Gaze is absolutely the right album for taking the plunge.
MONTERO - ADRIANA from Geoffrey O'Connor on Vimeo.
In addition to Ben, Montero is Gerald Wells (synths), Guy Blackman (piano), Cameron Potts (drums), Robert Bravington (bass) and Geoffrey O'Connor (guitar). The album is out now via Mistletone as a vinyl LP plus digital download. I don't think US fans can purchase from iTunes or Amazon yet, but keep in mind that your dollars go further in Australia.