Monsters of Folk was spawned in post-show jams between Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and M. Ward in 2004., but it’s taken them five years to translate the backstage jams into a studio experience.
They may be Monsters of Folk, but they’ve clearly colored outside genre lines. “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)” features a Marvin Gaye-meets-Moby ambient-soul texture. It’s followed by the Jeff Lynne-flavored “Say Please,” the Wilburys/Beatlesque pop-rock of “Whole Lotta Losin’,” the Everly Brothers twang of “Magic Marker,” and the reverb shimmer of “Temazcal.” The Monsters don’t skimp on the folk, though — from the George Harrison country romp “The Right Place” to the Wilco-at-a-bluegrass-festival protest song “Man Named Truth,” and the low-key gospel of “Goodway.” Considering the band’s spontaneous, collaborative approach to writing, the album is understandably diverse but unexpectedly cohesive.