Walk out to use the restroom and you’ll probably miss this entire EP (which clocks in at just over 14 minutes). Jeff Cloud’s love for EPs is evident again in the abbreviated Monkey Hearts and gives us a glimpse of what Velvet Blue’s head man sounds like. If you took the time to read our interview with him, which takes longer to read than it does to listen to Monkey Hearts, you’d pretty much know that Velvet Blue Music prefers to put out less risky EPs over LPs. You’d also know to expect a couple 7″‘s in the near future from Pony Express.
Cloud may not be comfortable being the frontman, but the EP has 4 incredible examples of why he should feel comfortable. I knew Cloud had low, subtle vocals from previous releases (The Eastwood Dive, compilations) that were comparable to Jason Martin’s, but on Monkey Hearts he finds a lush, shy voice. The beginning track, “Before You Were Everyones,” is a prime example of Cloud’s vocals over an early ’80s-ish bass line and the sliding guitar notes. Much different from the more garage-based sound of The Eastwood Dive, the opening track is similar to The Cure’s Standing on the Beach singles, but also with a nearly ’60s surf tune, as Martin’s influence comes to bear.
However, “Pockets of Pearls” is done acoustically and resembles the past EP more than the other 5 tracks. “All the Headaches…” could be a stripped down Starflyer song, with spacey keys flowing next to the reverbed guitar and Cloud’s subdued vocals. It shouldn’t be too surprising, considering you’re listening to 2/3 of Starflyer anyway. Cloud himself calls Pony Express “another one of those incestuous bands from California,” comprised of members of about five other bands.
“Once Again, In Cold Blood” is another beautiful melody reminiscent of the Velvet Underground, with a synth played over muted acoustic riffs and electronic drum beats that come in from out of left field. Monkey Hearts is better produced than Pony Express’s previous work and the songs have headed in the direction of melodic ’80s pop songs, which Cloud completes with his vocals. And if this weren’t enough, look for Pedro the Monkey, a 7″ by Pony Express that will be released soon.
Written by Nolan Shigley.