The Upshot: Ever the multitasker as an in-demand album/poster artist, member of Early Woman, and solo performer, Mr. Montero falters with his new take on soft-rock and power-pop.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
When he’s not making swirly, lazy-day, soft psychedelia, as a solo artist or as part of Early Woman, Ben Montero can be found sketching cartoons and multicolored album and poster art for bands including Kurt Vile, Ariel Pink and Mac DeMarco. His music likewise employs a vibratingly bright palette, with surging banks of synthesizers and high sweeping choruses, a la power pop icons like Eric Carmen and the Raspberries or the latter day pop wizards in Flaming Lips. There’s a pronounced 1970s soft rock vibe that sometimes recalls ELO and once, in the middle of early single “Vibrations,” conjures the wah-wah’d bravado of Frampton Comes Alive. Yet while Montero aims for the epic, the tunes are too lackadaisical to have much staying power. Sure, “Tokin’ the Night Away,” feels as warm and soft-focus and happy as an afternoon spent doing just that, but take away the massed “oohs” and “lahs,” and the falsetto’d poses, and there’s just not that much there. Lyrics, too, are dull to the point of cliché, full of unspecific good feelings about the life unexamined. It’s not bad – in fact, dedicate half a brain and half an ear to Performer and you’ll likely come away happy. It just doesn’t seem to matter much.