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Fool's Paradise

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Aug
Fool's Paradise
Sounds like … modern rock that blends the heavy metal influences of Disciple, Stryper, Seventh Day Slumber, Foo Fighers, and Audioslave with the anthemic and melodic qualities of U2, Dakona, and Kevin Max.At a glance … there are some impressive flashes of rock intensity and melodic hooks on Fool's Paradise that are compromised by other more formulaic and predictable tracks.Track ListingSunshineDear YouCan't Go OnThese EyesVanityNext YearUntil the EndTonightBlindDesperateBreakawayStandTear Me From You

Monday Morning is unique in that they had to be signed twice before releasing their national debut, Fool's Paradise. The North Carolina quartet found success as an independent band before signing a deal through industry veteran David Bach at a Christian record label, only to be left in the cold when that label soon downsized. Bach later started Selectric Records and made Monday Morning the inaugural act.

The band clearly benefited from the time between deals by honing their skills as a live band. It shows in the confident metal-tinged modern rock sound of this album, produced by Quinlan (The Benjamin Gate) and John & Dino Elefante. Think Disciple, Foo Fighters, and Audioslave meets U2 and Dakona—it's also evident that Stryper made an impression on their opening act during their 2003 tour.

Problem is Monday Morning too often settles for a generic approach to their songs that similarly made recent bands like Sky Harbor and Stereo Motion quickly forgettable. Though the recording captures their rock intensity, tracks like "Sunshine" and "Dear You" come off as formulaic and predictable stylistically. And while Monday Morning deserves a nod for tackling worldly issues like racism ("Can't Go On"), addictions ("Blind"), emotional abuse ("Desperate"), and loving others ("These Eyes") with a Christian perspective, they only scratch the surface on such weighty topics.

Yet just when you think you have this band figured out, the album picks up a little midway through. Derek Stipe's vocal is wonderful in "Next Year," a dynamite seven-minute faith walk almost as anthemic as something from U2. Both "Vanity" and "Until the End" offer a sharp metal edge, and there's an irresistible grungy dissonance to "Breakaway." Rounding out with the dark and densely produced confessional "Tear Me from You," Monday Morning leaves the impression that there's a potentially scorching rock band lurking behind the one that's geared to accommodate Christian radio.

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