The idea of combining indie rock darlings Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Jim James, and M. Ward, conceived in 2004, finally came to fruition yesterday with the release of The Monsters of Folk‘s self-titled album. The fifteen track disc defeats the old adage, often applied to super-groups, of the sum being less than its parts.
The four artists, each already having their own successes with bands Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and She & Him, highlight the best in each other. All four players share songwriting and vocal duties, and no one artist steals the spotlight completely; however, Oberst’s trademark sound does permeate most of the songs. His distinctive wordplay lyrics and jaunty folk-rock are predominant.
James’ past work with many different genres and influences in his band My Morning Jacket comes through on the trip-hop opening song “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.),” and the funk inspired “Losin Yo Head.” The evocative harmonies typical of Ward and Oberst are pervasive. And Mogis, originally of Oberst’s band Bright Eyes, plays a more minor role in the forefront of the album, but was major behind the scenes working as producer.
All four artists brought their best to the table, and created a disc of enjoyable, catchy folk tunes.