written by: drowningn00b
Last November, Monni released the single “Band Music”, a dance-rock song that celebrated rock music in all its glory, from a killer bass, galloping guitar riffs and screaming ad-libbing from frontman Kim Shin Ee. Seeing it performed live makes it better, but after promoting the single, Monni disappeared. After 5 months “From a Boy to a Man” was released, with “Band Music” included, but was the gap between releases to the band’s detriment?
For “From a Boy to a Man”, the approach is decidedly calmer, with exception of the aforementioned single and “No More Love Songs”. Short and simple, “Love Songs” sets the pace with fast drums and okay guitars, leaving the spotlight and technicality to Shin Ee. Due to the short length of the individual tracks on this mini, there isn’t much room for expansive solos and instrumental pyrotechnics, if you will. If you came into “From a Boy to a Man” for that, keep reading.
But what they do with these limitations is solid. On the title track, Gong Tae Woo (guitarist), Song Ju Hwan (drummer), and Lee Yin Gyoung (bassist) pull off the blues-rock sound very well, leaving me to wish for a long and wailing guitar solo. Kim also falters at the end, so the resulting effect is flat. Things pick up on “I Waited For You”, an acoustic guitar-led mid-tempo song that creeps up on you with its melody. Admittedly, any k-rock band has a version of this template, but Monni’s stamp on it makes it genuine. Tae Woo pulls off the SoCal-feel with ease, with Ju Hwan right there with him, keeping the song vibrant and dynamic. Mr. Kim gets back-up vocals from Mr. Gong and is a good compliment. Future material should include more of this Gong-Kim combo.
To close out, “From a Boy to a Man” ends with the epic live version of “Les Miserable”, originally from “One Day, Light”. Where the rest of the EP concentrated its efforts tightly, “Les Miserable” lets it all hang loose for a long time, at over 9 minutes. What becomes clear in “Les Miserable” is two-fold. One, Monni has a clear penchant from the dramatic. There are long drones all over the place, from the keyboard, to Shin Ee and the guitarist. Second obvious point is the talent behind the frontman. These are not just TV-ready kids; they are legitimately talented musicians. Tae Woo is one hell of a guitar player, tearing into that guitar for all its worth. Yin Gyoung keeps the tempo and Ju Hwan drives it along, both to superb effect. It stands to reason that bands are more than the frontman, and “Les Miserable” begs the question: why are the songs so short with all this talent?
Monni’s “From a Boy to a Man” is good, no doubt about it. “Band Music” is great fun, “I Waited For You” nails the laid back feeling without boring me, and the long finish of “Les Miserable” is a great highlight for the rest of the band. But it left me wanting more from Monni. Not from Mr. Kim, who can’t seem to shut up long enough to breathe (a good thing nevertheless), but from Mr. Gong, Mr. Song and Ms. Lee. Instead of throwing them on a 9 minute bonus track, extend the other songs and give solos to each, a la AXIZ. Monni’s “From a Boy to a Man” is more of a snack than a satisfying meal.