If music were minor league hockey, an overweight coach would be handing Sights & Sounds the “Most Improved Player Award” at the team’s year-end banquet (probably hosted at the Legion). After dropping a self-titled EP a few years back that, in my eyes, had two pretty good songs but lacked overall focus, the band returns with a real monster of an ambient rock album.

With Monolith, Sights & Sounds have found a way of seamlessly interweaving an array of influences that range from meaty, wide-open guitar riffs much akin to what Thrice was doing with Vheissu (arguably with more success) and Foo Fighters-esque melodies with heavier undertones and even some far-eastern spice.

The production flatters the band’s style significantly better this time out than it did on their EP. Andrew Neufeld’s rough-around-the-edges vocals suit the music pretty well, and he’s found a way to hit just the right intervals at the right times for some really great hooks. The pair of notables from the EP appear here with the spiffy production treatment, both benefiting from it – perhaps “Night Train” to the further extent, though I believe “Reconcile” to be the better of the two. Still, these two tracks are overshadowed by numbers like “Storm & The Sun” and “Neighbours,” which really nail the formula of big riffs and captivating phrasing. Even the lighter (relative term) offerings like “Borderlines” and “Pillars” manage to thrive thanks to Neufeld’s powerful delivery.

A solid emotional rock album, Monolith may be a bit long-winded, but you won’t notice the first few times out thanks to the number of interesting bits incorporated throughout the 14 tracks. While not always as urgent as they show us they can be (try “Subtle, Severe”), Sights & Sounds have really stepped up their songwriting with their full-length debut, and will be drawing this reviewer back for a few more listens down the line.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Sorrows
02. Shudder, St. Kilda
03. Storm and the Sun
04. The Clutter
05. Neighbours
06. The Furthest Truth
07. Pedal Against the Wind
08. Night Train
09. Reconcile
10. Borderlines
11. Subtle, Severe
12. Sorrows II
13. Pillars
14. Untitled

Run Time: 1:03:57