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EP Review: I, Us & We – Mono

I’m on a bit of a run at the minute when it comes to reviewing ‘challenging’ records. I mean reviewing your standard rock/metal/pop/hip hop record is pretty straightforward but reviewing music described as ‘clean and unadulterated dream pop’ requires a bit more thought.

The makers of the aforementioned ‘clean and unadulterated dream pop’ are three brothers from California who call themselves I, Us & We. I can’t say that the music made by Jordan Doverspike and his two brothers Evan and Aaron is your standard pop music as you’ve probably gathered; it’s a little more atmospheric to say the least.

At its heart Mono is a synth-driven journey through parts of your psyche that you weren’t sure existed and nowhere is that more apparent than on opening track Lanterns. You can really lose yourself in this track; if you really just buy into what it’s trying to get you to do you’ll totally drift away in the best way possible. It also contains my favourite lyric on the record;

Some would say that love is for the dreamers of today

There’s something so beautifully poetic about that line that really strikes a chord with me, fantastic stuff.

My response when I first listened to Sunday was a resounding ‘meh.’ That’s if ‘meh’ can ever be resounding… I’ll just put that one down to artistic licence. However, a few listens I got it. It’s ethereal, sweeping simplicity finally cracked me and the song pulled me in. This track and the record as a whole for that matter acts as a kind of mental pallet cleanser. You have to let it wash over you and clear whatever clutter is currently scattered across your mind and only then I think will you get the rewards that this EP offers. Plus, and it always helps, I love the hook on this track. It hits the spot absolutely perfectly.

Penultimate song Free sees the EP take a darker turn, and to be perfectly honest it’s the only track that I actually actively dislike. I get the idea behind the song and the change of mood but I’m not a massive fan of the execution. The vocal during the verses is trying so hard to be that soft and gentle presence and as a result some of the lyrics blend together and that particular line in the song loses all of its impact as you have to listen so hard to work out what the lyrics are. It doesn’t happen on every line but it puts a downer on the song for me and on top of this the song doesn’t really go anywhere. It just sort of exists without really making an impact.

In any event things pick up for final track Alive which is a wholly more positive affair. A mood summed up by the lyric and lovely sentiment that is

Love will keep me alive.

That being said I do think that the track is still a little bit too long.

Summing this EP up is a bit of a difficult one, mainly because I can see why people would be drawn to it. In fact they are the same reasons that I am drawn to it. I like the feeling of complete escapism; the music takes you away from reality and doesn’t sound like it is of this Earth. The flipside to that however for me personally is that to appreciate that I need to be in a certain mind-set. I think if you don’t put energy into trying to ‘feel’ the music and ‘get in the zone’ to use a crappy term, to put it bluntly you’ll probably find the EP boring.

So I think what I’m trying to say is that if you really buy into this record then you’ll get it and enjoy it but if you don’t then it will just pass you by. There’s a fair chance how much I like the EP will depend what I’m in, it’s just one of those. I can’t lie it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

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