Fire in the Radio are not a band who are scared to wear their influences on their sleeve. The most obvious of which is the pop-punk/emo pioneers Jawbreaker. And it would be fair to say if you were unaware this is a brand new album, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a record of a much earlier vintage (somewhere around the late 90’s/early 00’s probably).
Not that it would be fair to brand them copyists, though. Jawbreaker may be the chief influence, but you can hear several things going here. A snatch of Bob Mould here, a little dash of Gaslight Anthem there. There is also a shade of grunge, early 90s college rock, and a healthy helping of classic pop-punk. Clearly, it is a formula the group has been perfecting for a while, and it is competently pulled off throughout the record.
Competent is the keyword here. All the tracks feel well-crafted, and over the LP’s svelte 35-min runtime, there is hardly a weak link in its 11 tracks. The only real issue with the record is that even over its short length there are times when it can start to feel all a bit same-y, one track bleeding into the next, like the album is permanently set to anthemic. Not there is necessarily anything wrong with that, but it can get a bit tiresome.
In fairness, they do mix it up a bit as This is My Document provides a more low-key, sombre note, while on the opposite end of the scale, Sing Sang Sung is a more straight-ahead punk rock tune of the kind you could easily find yourself pogoing along too. There are other highlights too with opener Lets Get to the Start kicking off proceedings in spirited style. Plus Sunday Cassock is a raging bull of a track offering a fiery critique of the Catholic Church. It is the kind of a song where you can feel the ire palpably emanating off it.
There is certainly little doubting the authenticity of emotion on that track, nor any of the tracks for that matter, even when it veers towards the annoying, such as on the curious album closer Save Me, which is obviously aiming to be heart-rending and rousing. Instead, for 2 ½ minutes, it is limp and pedestrian, before bursting into unexpected life in the final minute soaring into the territory it was aiming for in the first place.
Monuments will no doubt hit all the right notes a particular emo-oriented audience is looking for. And there is no doubt it is a good record with some genuinely memorable tracks, but still there is a sense it won’t see them break away from the indie-punk/emo crowd. Then again, it is an uplifting listen in dispiriting times, and that is commendable in itself.