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Formica Blues

93 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 10, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Steeped in placid, retro innocence, the updated sounds of Mono may have you nostalgic for pastel plaid patterns in a tripped-up Brady Bunch groove. Nonetheless, Formica Blues offers plenty of modern tricks that won't leave you hanging on the dance floor reaching for your platform shoes. Oscillating between current trip-hop standards and blameless wanderings, the album presents harpsichord turns, abstract jungle beats, slithering guitar, and spacey whirls. Perhaps the most notable distinction is the dainty female vocals of Siobhan De Maré which suggest influences ranging from St. Etienne to Hooverphonic. On the whole, it's a striking album with enough cross-generational reference to keep the masses cultivated. --Lucas Hilbert

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Life in Mono
  2. Silicone
  3. Slimcea Girl
  4. The Outsider
  5. Disney Town
  6. The Blind Man
  7. High Life
  8. Playboys
  9. Penguin Freud
  10. Hello Cleveland!
  11. Life in Mono (Alice Band Mix)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 10, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: February 10, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Fontana Island
  • ASIN: B000006MX5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,391 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By C. Michael Massey on June 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
It's pretty inevitable that people will compare Mono to Portishead (which I also love) and although I agree with the comparison, I think it would be difficult if not impossible to confuse the one with the other. Mono, unlike Portishead, is much more deeply rooted in pop music of the 1960s, which is incredibly evident in tracks like "Slimcea Girl," "The Outsideres," and "Silicone."
The main track, "Life in Mono," is what initially turned me on to the group, having heard it during a trailer for the Hawke/Paltrow remake of *Great Expectations*. The movie was somewhat of a disappointment, not helped by the fact that they did NOT use "Life in Mono" in the film itself--only during the end credits. Pity, as the beautifully wistful, melancholy track would have suited the film perfectly.
The track gets double play on the album, and it's a tie as to which one is better. The Alice Band Mix is a lot funkier, but perfectly retains the same melancholy, wistful feel of the first track, coming off as if it's the same memory in a different mind.
"Slimcea Girl" is another favorite, sounding like classic Burt Bacharach with a millenium-era edge. Other songs, like "The Outsiders," "Playboys," "Hello Cleveland," "Silicone," and "Penguin Freud" have more of a Portishead feel--blending '60s spy-theme-like music with contemporary electronic elements. "The Blind Man" takes the idea back a bit further and sounds like the updated theme of a '70s detective show.
Keeping this from a 5-star rating are the two tracks, "Disney Town" and "High Life.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Vicky T. on December 22, 1999
Format: Audio CD
After hearing their first single, "Life in Mono" from Great Expectaions, I fell in love with Mono. The erotic and exotic feel of the music and lyrics are mindblowing and mood altering. While smooth and mellow, it is also up-lifting and racey. Their are no words to accurately express the feelings their music arouse. By meshing all different forms and styles of music, Mono has created a truly unique style of their own. Absolutely phenomenal!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I first heard Mono when my roommate played Formica Blues a couple times last year. I wasn't hooked instantly, but it was pretty close. It's probably also worth mentioning that someone I know bought this album after hearing me play it *once*.
The music never hits a fever pitch the way Björk or Portishead might, always wanting to be the perfect background music, but nonetheless you can detect an energy in the sound. This won't swirl your head the way Orbital will -- there's definitely an element of pop here -- but you can't help appreciating the quiet, perfect electronic backing the subdued but enchanting vocals.
The first three tracks of this album are golden. "Life in Mono" is the one everyone knows, and "Silicone" has a very similar sound. My favorite, though, may be "Slimcea Girl". Something about the chorus won't let me go. That fever pitch I mentioned earlier -- maybe it's that.
The rest of the album is merely okay. "High Life" has grown on me, and the alternate version of "Life in Mono" at the end of the album is excellent, but for the most part these aren't tunes that will stick in your mind or paralyze you with their beauty.
The reason I give the album only three stars is that with the exceptions of the first three songs, I really have to be in the mood for this album to fully enjoy it. Fans who have only heard "Life of Mono" probably will be satisfied, but not overjoyed, with the album.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
British pop duo Mono bring a sad, sweet sensibility to "Formica Blues," their first (and apparently only) album. It only narrowly avoids being bubblegum electronica. Instead it's a vaguely retro trip-hop collection with wistful vocals and melancholy little songs.
A low, thumping bass line pulls into the twittery trip-hop of "Life in Mono," a catchy but unmemorable little song. The tone shifts with the slightly ominous, poppy "Silicone" and the keyboard-led ballad "Slimcea Girl." The album bobs along with songs like the dramatic ("Outsider," the jazzy trip-hop "Blind Man") and the fluffy trip-hop ("Disney Town," pretty little "High Life"), before wrapping up with the bouncy, smoky "Hello Cleveland" and the Alice Band mix of "Life in Mono" with horns and drums.
If an album has "blues" in the title, it's a fair bet that there's something downbeat about it. "Formica Blues" avoids being actually depressing -- it's more the depression of someone who has had their heart broken, and is dealing with it by browsing quaint stores in Europe, smoking in loft apartments and painting little pictures. Sad, but in a way that heals. ("The tree-lined avenue/Begins to fade from view/Drowning past regrets/In tea and cigarettes")
The music itself is a web of keyboards, guitar, "wicked tambourine," and trumpets. Siobhan De Mare's breathy vocals are a nice touch; they're wispy but pretty. And the songwriting is most solid when it focuses on heartbreak, as in "Slimcea Girl" and "Life in Mono.
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