It seemed as though the robots had short-circuited after their debut release. They toured non-stop for a year or two and then disappeared. Many thought the junk yard was the fate for these robots, but it turns out they were just doing maintenance, upgrading and such. Best friends and the only remaining original members, vocalist, Alex Ebert, and guitarist, Timmy "the Terror" Anderson, rounded up some new robots and started recording.
These robots were programmed to play music, so they played and played. They couldn't stop. When it was time to mix the album, the robots had over 100 songs recorded. It was hard to decide what was worthy for their sophomore album. Finally, three years after their debut, the robots were back to touring. They couldn't stand not sharing all of this music with their beloved human fans, so they produced their own EP: Search and Destroy (a limited edition that could only be purchased during this special tour). That was in June. Virgin records released Monument to the Masses a few months later. This may be dangerous to Ima Robot fans. Being deprived for so long and then all of a sudden overloaded may cause shock.
Luckily, the shock is good. Ebert has traded in his signature fashion mullet with racing stripes for some MC Hammer/ genie style pants (check them out on Monument to the Masses' cover art) and Ima Robot has traded the spastic/electro-pop of their debut for catchy riffs and melodies.
They have mellowed out a bit, but for those who loved Ima Robot for its spasicity (I made that word up) and quirkiness, don't worry. Ebert's lyrics are just as quirky as ever, ranging from stalker girlfriends in "Creeps Me Out" (which is a true story, by the way), to drug use, to love, to giving America the middle finger in "Disconnect" and "Stick it to the Man." Songs such as "Stick it to the Man" showcase the spazz-rock that encompassed their debut.
The most apparent difference between the albums falls on Ebert's vocals. He is not as overbearing as on Ima Robot, where his vocals carry the album with the faint sound of a band behind them. More noticeably, he explores vocal diversity on Monument to the Masses. Vocally, every song is different, ranging from ballads, to disco, to hip-hop (Ebert's dream was to be a hip-hop artist), to spazz-rock, to pop; however, the album flows. The robots have definitely upgraded.
This album is just as fun and bizarre as the first. It will still make you want to stop whatever you're doing and dance. The robots just seem more serious. They prove that they can create good music and still have people question their sanity.
8.0 / 10
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