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Album Review: The Mavericks – MONO

2 min read

A near-decade long hiatus couldn’t keep Raul Malo, Paul Deakin, Eddie Perez and Jerry Dale McFadden apart, as the musicians brought back The Mavericks for 2013’s critically acclaimed In Time.

The Mavericks - MONODespite founding member and bassist Robert Reynolds just being fired for drug addiction, the band carries on with the aptly titled 8th studio album, MONO.

After all, it is in mono that most records up to the late 1960s are meant to be heard (e.g. the Motown singles, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound recordings and the overwhelming majority of the Beatles catalog). Thanks to this audio mixing decision, the sound on this full-length is raw yet surprisingly clear and vibrant.

The slick, sizzling opener All Night Long is a killer tango punctuated by ballsy brass, frenzied guitar, frontman Malo’s passionate belting tenor and a catchy chorus guaranteed to get listeners up and dancing. It grunts, it heaves and it’s Latin enough to be pulled off in a decadent pre-Castro Havana club (though the decision to put in a fade out instead of a cold ending is rather strange). Summertime (When I’m With You) also goes back to the 1950s with spaghetti western guitars like Richie Valens’ La Bamba, Malo crooning like Dean Martin and an undeniable swing.

The smooth crunch of guitars and steady, laid-back beat belie the strong musicianship on What Am I Supposed To Do, whose pleading chorus insists on being heard. Stories We Could Tell has jaunty organ hits and a feelgood, raucous rockabilly vibe that should unleash some devilish hollering, clapping and stomping on the dance floor. What You Do (To Me) may have a more subdued vocal performance, but it disguises a dramatic musical backing speeding out of control like a wayward chariot as shrilly brass brings more headbanging-worthy goodness.

The hopping, whisky-soaked The Only Question manages to tiptoe the line between sleaze and soul, like a mischievous child trying to sneaking into a peep show. Out The Door is chilled out by comparison (after all, the band was founded in sunny Miami), as its tale of falling out of love manages to be spiteful yet sound pleasant thanks to its sunny harmonies. (Waiting For) The World To End is another example of the band making light of morbid topics, over some bouncy ska culminating in a fun-filled, regret-free breakdown.

The slower moments don’t quite penetrate like the more upbeat offerings on the album. Pardon Me is a bit too apologetic and the piano ballad Fascinate Me gets repetitive in its ‘you complete me’ refrain. Let It Rain (On Me) however is a lovely, intimate moment with keyboard chimes in the innocent bridge backed by sensual saxes.

On MONO, these Grammy winners know how to kickstart a party with songs and energy custom-made for intimate stages everywhere.