This is a review of "Bland Bland Bland" recorded by Whole Sky Monitor. The review was written by Lewis Denby in 2008.
There's such an obvious joke opportunity in the title of this record that I'm having to put a lot of effort into actually writing an honest review, instead of falling back on a cheap gag. Fortunately for Whole Sky Monitor, their second full-length release is of a high enough quality to stop that from being an option.
They've had a few CDs out over the years, but if you've heard of this lot in the past year or so, it's probably through Bland Bland Bland's lead single 'Harehills Chapeltown'. Still, while it's the obvious choice for a lead track, it's not really representative of what this talented four-piece are capable of. This is a distinctly British indie record packed with invention, incorporating elements of a whole fistful of genres, from early metal, through punk, and to modern MTV2 art-rock; an album that flits between Therapy?, Led Zeppelin, Manic Street Peachers and Forward Russia at will, but always thoughtfully, productively and charmingly. It's expertly produced by Matt Elliss, the man behind 90s pop princess Louise's sound, and is performed with a consistent panache and enthusiasm by the entire band. Some of the lyrics are to die for: an honest, intelligent social commentary without any of the pretension of its peers. More than anything, Bland Bland Bland stands out for its maturity and refinement.
It's not a classic, nor is it necessarily instantly lovable. But repeated listens confirm that there is very little to criticise about this album. This is a solid, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable release, one that, even after fourteen tracks, listened to time after time, doesn't drag or grate in any way (though the first half of the album is stronger than the second). Instead, the songs creep up on your subconscious, in the way that all high-quality music has a tendency to do, and before you know it, Bland Bland Bland has become a record that will be stuck in your head for quite some time.