Monster Movie – Last Night Something Happened

Monster Movie
Last Night Something Happened

Although one should never assume, I would assume that Monster Movie took its name from Can’s 1969 debut album of the same name. If this is true, then it is beneficial to Monster Movie that they also did not rip-off that German band’s sound. What we have here is a two-piece made up of Christian Savill and Sean Hewson. But Monster Movie’s music is far from stripped down. Guitars, bass, piano, synthesizers, and drums comprise most of the 10 songs. Monster Movie combines pop and shoegazer (a lot of reverb). One may be reminded of Low. Yes, Monster Movie is laid back in that Low respect, but Last Night Something Happened is far from boring. Rather, it is surprisingly gripping. And as a reference point, Christian Savill used to be a member of Slowdive before they disbanded. Fortunately, MM is not a clone of Slowdive. They are more melodic, more poppy. Still, if you were a fan of Slowdive, you ! can be sure that Monster Movie is right up your alley.
The atmospheric, shoegazer-with-organ instrumental “First Trip to the City” begins the album. My heart fell all warm inside as Brian Eno’s Another Green World was brought to mind. This song is a cross between pop and ambient like the songs from that classic record. But the nine songs that follow do more than simply use the Eno formula (effectively, nonetheless). “Shortwave” starts out with a very Death Cab for Cutie feel, vocally. Then, however, the background chanting begins along with mid-paced, atmospheric humming. This song does bring to mind Enya, and not in a bad way. It is very beautiful. Christian Savill has a beautiful voice, singing, “Did your soul not shine / did your daytime turn into night / do you feel / like the days / are behind you.”
Echoing piano and repetitive drumming give “Home” an otherworldly sound. Wind blows as if the listener is placed in a scene from, well, a Monster Movie. But this movie is far more eerie than slasher. The monsters in this movie deceive, appearing as humans, until they make the kill. The movie continues a few songs later with “Star City.” This song puts the listener at the scene of the crime, the day after the small-town family in the middle of nowhere was murdered. The sounds of a helicopter can be heard flying overhead. And Monster Movie provides the somber, slow piano soundtrack. But the uneasy movie scenes are interrupted by the finest song Last Night Something Happened has to offer: “Waiting.” Coincidentally, I had a Cure CD along with Monster Movie’s album in my 3-CD changer. When this song began and I heard whimsical, standout bass playing, I thought the player so! mehow switched to Disintegration. But then higher-pitched, a lot less British sounding, and perhaps more optimistic vocals kicked in. Now that I view “Waiting” as an entire song, it wouldn’t fit on Disintegration, but it, by all accounts, matches the quality of the songs on that beast.
The first song with a more dark than eerie feel to it is “Sleeping on a Train.” A distorted and acoustic guitar work together to create a sound that doesn’t seem to fit with the supernatural feeling that the rest of the album makes. “4th and Pine” is a poppier number in the vein of “Shortwave,” where Savill’s vocals echo, “Last night something happened / down on 4th and Pine.” “Ooby” is the only song from this debut LP to appear on the preceding self-titled EP, and for good reason. Here we have the album’s standout single, although Last Night Something Happened certainly is not a singles album. Over catchy synthesizer playing and fuzzy guitars, Savill sings the chorus, “Oh, well I know what we’re thinking / moving to fast / we get a glimpse of it all / and maybe it’s you / that is moving in circles / but I’m sure that this thing is built to last.”
Last Night Something Happened sounds familiar enough that the listener will be engaged on first listen. However, it also doesn’t wear thin as it effectively combines elements of pop, ambient, and shoegazer. Where Slowdive’s Souvlaki was so Eno-inspired that the man even produced the album and lent his hand to two tracks, Monster Movie’s debut LP only shows hints of that Eno sound. What we have here is essentially a dream-pop album. To its advantage though, it feels new and special. It also creeps me out.