i heart the monster heroIt seems that I Heart The Monster Hero have real trouble naming things. Their band name is a head-scratcher, and the album name ‘Rhythm and Pals’, is equally bewildering.

The album artwork also look like someone spilt paint and walked over the original photo, redrew the face and hoped no one would notice. But the quality of an album can’t be judged by its name or artwork, it’s the songs that matter, so we can only hope that ‘Rhythm and Pals’ faults are only skin-deep.

Toni Bailey starts off the album with a catchy synth hook, and a satisfying guitar riff ensures ‘Rhythm and Pals’ is off to a bright start. The only issue is that the vocals have some strange effect put on them that makes them sound distant, intangible and indecipherable. They serve only as another instrument, and for the most part, not one that is particularly pleasant.

This seems to be the way the band operate, with an appealing catchy framework consisting of guitars and synths masked by fuzzy vocals. This love of fuzz and distortion seeps into the haphazard guitar solos, with the one on Send Goodvibes Only exposed to an unhealthy amount of effects. Picking out a single note from this messy, distortion gloop is impossible; it’s as if the guitar has just been thrown against the wall. If this was the desired effect, then it was a bad idea; as with the vocals, the guitar part only takes away from what might be a decent tune.

It is not as if I Heart The Monster Hero are without promise. As already mentioned, there is a level of catchiness that is not fully harnessed, and there are lo-fi/garage-rock sensibilities that also threaten to entertain, but the extensive use of a drum machine removes all the edginess from their sound. It’s as if the band have attempted to encompass both lo-fi and hi-fi elements, but instead of producing what might have been an interesting listen, they manage to sound both lacklustre and over-produced simultaneously.

Do Dah is the one moment where the band excel. After a long intro that does nothing for the song, we are finally treated to a wonderful synth riff, and chirpy, dancey handclaps. The wispy vocals actually suit the hazy atmosphere well, and for two minutes the listener is teleported to a different world. This is the one song that provides any relief from the melting pot of insubstantial vocals, messy guitars, and maddeningly repetitive drums.