As would be expected from a band with a name implying forward motion, Wilmington's Onward, Soldiers breaks new ground on its second album, Monsters.
As the record kicks off with "Telling Nobody," the first thing that jumps out is how open the sound is. Percussion and keyboard drives the songs on Monsters rather than guitar. This frees the guitar to play more melodic lines and allows the sound to resonate more.
"Telling Nobody" is a buoyant, bouncy pop song and it's followed up with the flamenco styling of "Nighttime Sky." This isn't even the most jarring style jump. The funky groves of "Monster" lead into the bright twang of "Cry." It sounds like everyone in a disco all of the sudden started line dancing.
There's also plenty here for fans of Onward, Soldiers catchy brand of southern rock. "Living on the Run" would make a great road trip song with its driving drums and lonely steel guitar and harmonica. The somber "Carolina" is a smoldering ballad and a welcome addition to the collection of Carolina songs.
Monsters can pull off these style shifts because its songs are all anchored with enjoyable melodies and the band is precise in its execution.
Onward, Soldiers are experimenting and still forming their identity as a band, but on Monsters it makes sure that its audience can enjoy the process.
Monsters will be available on February 21. Onward, Soldiers is celebrating the release of Monsters with Hammer No More The Fingers at The Pour House in Raleigh on January 26.