Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones sounds like its own band name, but in actuality, it is the latest album by The Neighbourhood. After topping the charts with the single, “Sweater Weather,” The Neighbourhood took their newfound success and decided to reinvent themselves, slightly. It is remis to find that the alt-rock stylings are gone in favor of an electro-funk style. While producing an experimental album distinct from their earlier sound, it falls short of expectations.
When coming up with a Ziggy Stardust like alter ego, there are more alluring names for the accompanying band as opposed to The Mono-Tones. A monotone is by definition a single tone without harmony or variation. The only thing worse than a monotone is a series of monotones to make the single beat drag on. Sadly, this title is very apt for the album, with eleven songs that do not differentiate themselves much other than switching out a new word or phrase to wrap the chorus around.
I recognize it is hard to be energetic in 2020. The summer that just ended was mostly spent indoors and large swaths of people have gone without large gatherings for much of the preceding year. Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones fits comfortably in its time when music is largely consumed alone at a computer. That being said, if Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones is capturing the essence of the quarantined spring and summer of 2020, then it also carries the largely forgotten weeks of the pandemic as days and songs bleed together in a hard to differentiate fashion. Tracks from the album are largely in the tune of lullabies, and together they make a sea of sleepy songs.
Highlights from the album include “Devil’s Advocate” and “Lost in Translation” which add solid psychedelic twists to groove to. On the other end of the spectrum, the song “The Mono-Tones” is dreary and repetitive. At one minute and fourteen seconds, the song could not end fast enough. For an album cover advertised with a man painted in silver and spandex, the resulting album is fairly flat and even worse, largely forgettable. The character Chip Chrome is the main crutch of the album, and his voice does not have enough gusto to carry it. A possible remedy would be to unleash the accompanying band and get back to the musical styling that got The Neighbourhood recognizable to begin with.