Emo has a new hope, a new face, and a new album. Monument’s Goes Canoeing succeeds in channeling the spirit of Cap’n Jazz while bursting at the seams with indie, punk, and hardcore inclinations. As if the collective underground wasn’t about to climax, Goes Canoeing was recorded and mixed by Algernon Cadwallader’s Joe Reinhart, effectively raising indie levels to over 9000. These D.C. natives balance raw, tumultuous songwriting with meticulous instrumentation, and the result is a new indie classic.
Goes Canoeing essentially previews the rest of the album with its opening track. “Untitled” begins with a soothing acoustic guitar line that dissolves into a disarray of feedback. This contrast is apparent throughout. Monument is highly adept at seamlessly blending elements of both harmony and discord in their music. Tracks like “Roots Run Deep” showcase how musically multifarious this band can really be, featuring unique percussive elements and an oddly placed trumpet solo. The quality of instrumentation on Goes Canoeing deserves as much praise. Brandon Korch’s drumming is delightfully in-the-pocket, and the guitar lines of Anton Kropp and Gabe Marquez intermingle uniformly, only to briefly approach dichotomy for the sake of dynamics. The consecutive “The Diamond Age” and “Breakfast” – the former being short and sweet, the latter being awesomely abrupt in every facet – further accentuate how Monument can get a big reaction with little time.
Monument’s latest does a wonderful job of making short, often-uttered lines sound very meaningful. Something about the way singer/bassist Dan Doggett shouts “I can see right through you/you can see right through me” in “Glass House” makes you feel each word in your gut. “No Sleep, All Play” begins with a slow grind that builds up to the point where you’re screaming “we’ll sleep when we’re dead” right along with the band. There’s even something very cathartic about the delivery of the most meager two lines on the album: “you live/you learn” in “I’ve Got Some Plans.” I can only wonder why the words “eyes shut tight ‘till the end” mean so much to the person who wrote it, but when sung with as much conviction as Doggett, it’s hard to doubt that they do.
While Monument’s Goes Canoeing isn’t particularly new-fangled in its devices, it manages to capture the honest emotion that got the genre its name in the first place. It is purposefully dynamic, never stale, and it promises to be hailed as a must-hear by fans of Sunny Day Real Estate and the like. Monument’s newest release may just be a precursor to a new wave of emo. Who knows? It’s happening with pop-punk. Speculation aside, Goes Canoeing is a superb album despite whatever legacy it leaves.