If Electric Guest is a band you’ve heard before, Mondo is the album you’ve heard better executed by a different band. Mondo is the debut EP by the much buzzed about L.A. band, comprised of lead singer Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton. Electric Guest very much supports the old saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Taccone is brothers with Lonely Island songwriter Jorma, and through Lonely Island developed a relationship with golden producer and musician Danger Mouse. The catch of that all too wise saying is; after whom you know, it’s again what you know. Electric Guest knows this- all it takes is one semi-catchy guitar-synth tune to cash in on The High Road/Sleepyhead/Pumped up Kicks phase of “indie rock.”
Danger Mouse has produced and wrote for artists including The Black Keys, Broken Bells, Gnarles Barkley, and Beck. Mondo possesses aspects of these former Danger Mouse efforts without evolving an element to set Electric Guest apart as an artist to truly watch. The first track “Holes” opens the album with a repetitive synth progression and over-produced vocals which elude to the fact there might be more Danger Mouse than Electric Guest throughout. “Troubleman” is almost nine minutes of acoustic strumming that doesn’t seek to take the listener or track anywhere beyond its length. Taccone’s vocals on “American Dream” are run through, what I can only imagine, is every form of vocal tool under Danger Mouse’s sleeve. Even with the credible production of Danger Mouse, it seems Electric Guest is trying to replicate a sound they just fall short of.
The one grace of Mondo rides on the foot-tapping, shoulder-shaking single “This Head I Hold.” Taccone’s falsetto conjures images of a cheesy, but super enjoyable, doo-wop singer snapping from side to side. The single is retro-R&B sounding. The high-pitched “ooh/ I go higher” is the most memorable aspect of the track, which would be great if you could recall the lyrics and melody surrounding the hook. If you love the single, visit the band's website and tediously piece together the album cover’s statues to hear an exclusive acoustic stream of “This Head I Hold.” The band also treats listeners to a non-LP bonus track “Jenny.”
The issue with Electric Guest is they seem content to occupy the genre without progressing it. A debut LP is a little early to rest on the laurels of who and what a band knows. But alas, the synth-led young scene of neon-wearers will rave to and about Mondo, until the next best thing comes along. At this summer’s music festivals Electric Guest will arguably be heard playing “that one song,” from a side stage.
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2. This Head I Hold
3. Under the Gun
6. The Bait
9. American Daydream