Music » CD Reviews

Raleigh Moncreif

Watered Lawn



It's awfully tempting to be well-rounded. The Internet, with all its aggregative powers, only encourages this desire, and accordingly, the tendency to spread oneself thin. That's the problem with Robby Moncreiff's new album, released last week under his band name Raleigh Moncreif. It's foundationally quite strong, but falls victim to its own appetite. It's got some inspired experimentation, some catchy beats, and even some moments of near genius — but it's also too diffuse.

One thing's for sure about Watered Lawn: Replay value is high. For fans of experimental pop and electronic/beat production, it definitely deserves a close listen. The album's obvious intent not to fit into old molds is one of the best things it has going for it.

The most bothersome parts of the record pertain to how Moncrieff tracked his vocals. For someone who's voice isn't mind-blowing, multiple vocal tracks can work well, but on many songs, his mega-layered vox hang together like a loose bouquet, or like a less interesting take on old Animal Collective home recordings. Some of the melodies sound haphazard rather than carefully composed. At certain points, though, his voice sounds great — in high falsetto or a more tempered deep range on tracks like "Cast Out For Days" and "The Right Idea" — proof that Moncrieff could benefit from playing to his strengths more often.

The weak strands of the album shouldn't deter potential listeners. If Moncreiff consistently made tracks as moving as "Lament For Morning," for instance, he'd be a superstar. "In This Grass" also shines as a guitar-effect-heavy instrumental over a loping, stutter-step beat. Each song, in fact, has redeemable and even exciting elements; Moncrieff is a great producer who needs a ruthless editor to help pick out his best work. (Anticon)