This is a review of "We Grow Up EP" recorded by Whole Sky Monitor. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
Whole Sky Monitor start from a great name and a well tended niche in the Leeds music scene.
We have a confident guitar band here, with strong drumming and top production values. We have a well built song in "We Grow Up" and some intelligent lyrics all round.
"We grow Up" has a slow and stately solo guitar line bringing in the tune, and a strong build through the empassioned verse. Words sketch out the wretched poverty of retail park lifestyles in the back of the family car. "They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad." as he said all those years ago in Hull. John Parkes has a fine song here - but his voice doesn't have the full strength to carry it and there are scary moments in the crescendo when it gets a bit strangled and underpowered. Drama has to be dramatic and thrilling. It can be vulnerable and wistful. But this has moments of getting too close to the pathetic end of he spectrum.
"The Chosen" exposes the voice against some inventive guitar playing and more rock solid drumming. There are bits of Carl Perkins and bits of Hawkwind from the guitars, which is a striking combination. It would shift the live set along pretty nicely I guess.
"On a Roll" repeats the opening structure of "We Grow Up", and adds a stronger harmonic development than "The Chosen". There's some very cute wobbly guitar that I like a lot, and a bit more of the head shaking chord thrashing between verses. But it's hard to find the focus in terms of personality, voice, tune or lyrical theme. "Get us out of here" he shouts, as the band threaten to drown him out.
"Horizon" has a good melodic phrase in the chorus, but is a bit thin in the verse. It's a routine number from a live set that would be dropped once another good song was added.
It's a pity I have to mention Radiohead, but the label's web site does raise the subject. And the cap does fit well enough for it to be a bit of a distraction. Whole Sky Monitor are clearly in the Leeds Premiership and well ahead of many of the whippersnappers currently assailing the Joseph's Well faithful. If they're billed, you would definitely want to go and see the show. But to make the next big move they might need to think about how compelling that voice is.