Youth confuses and bravado can mask doubts. Questions about the future are intimidating. What are you doing with your life? Is there a point in continuing? When facing these thoughts, easy escape tantalizes. For some, eating copious amounts of fast food serves as a relief, but Monomyth just wants to get “fucked up, fuck off and be free.”
This sentiment is crooned on “Aloha,” the opening track of Monomyth’s Happy Pop Family. Nestled amongst a fuzzy guitar twang, it is a striking musical moment, one that seems more like a pose than a genuine feeling. Self-satisfaction of this sort rarely seems genuine, especially when using loaded words like “free.” And these types of lyrically cliché moments fill Happy Pop Family. On “Re: lease (looking for a place to go),” for instance, a Velvet Underground infused jam is overlaid with the raspy recount of a rental struggle. A friend fails to pay rent, as he is too “busy getting hell bent.” But what’s the point in worrying? “You may as well just “crack a beer when the cops aren’t near.”
Purported edginess drives this album forward. Through the eyes of Monomyth, life is a beer soaked affair. And while I have no problem with getting “fucked up” or listening to music about fucking oneself up, Happy Pop Family is devoid of self-reflection. What compels this desire for escape? Why do you feel the need to “fuck off and be free?” This subject has long been the domain of basement dwelling punks and D.I.Y. fanatics. On Titus Andronicus’s 2008 Airing of Grievances, Patrick Stickles screams “all I have is a bottle … it’s the only thing I can call my own,” a declaration extolling alcohol’s ability to fill empty spaces. It is an honest moment which matches the gritty tone of Stickles’ album.
And perhaps tone is why Monomyth steers clear from reflection. They are not trying to be grimy. Instead, Happy Pop Family looks constantly towards the easy and enjoyable. Each song, while selling a “fuck it” lifestyle, is filled with the fluffy and the digestible. It is pop to the core. Nothing is new or uncomfortable. Instead most of the album plods along a well-worn path. “Falling in Love” plays like Belle and Sebastian, while the enjoyable and infectious “High on Sunshine” powers along like a better Sloan song. But Monomyth occasionally knocks it out of the park. Songs like “Puppet Creek” and “Cool Blue Hello” standout for both their simplicity and compelling hooks that burrow into your head. These moments are fun and justify the twelve-track album. There is a time and a place for this music. But, like fast food or getting fucked up and fucking off, you are left empty in the end.