Danbury, Connecticut’s Monsterland knew enough about feedback and harmonically alluring indie-pop craft to jumble the pieces together and produce a jangly rush of soft airborne thistles whose impact is entirely pleasurable. The shabbily produced Loser Friendly is a semi-good introduction, all soaring tunes, skittering guitar exuberance, self-conscious lyrics (“Magazine” resorts to the Cynthia Heimel book title, Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth I’m Kissing You Goodbye) and badge-sporting reference points, most notably a modest punk-pop cover of Blondie’s “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear.” Bassist Thom Monahan’s voice is nothing special, but in tandem with resourceful guitarist Greg Vegas, the trio’s singing is both adequate and beside the point.
From such dinky beginnings, Monsterland made a sound-breaking trip to the majors without untoward incident. On Destroy What You Love, reliable producer Ted Nicely triples the amplitude and density of the band’s music, replacing small-scale youthfulness with a thick blast of real-world power, mustering a fast-paced tribute to My Bloody Valentine that retains its all-American focus. Monsterland rises to the challenge by redoubling its melodic grip, harnessing the added energy to strengthen the music, not obliterate its charms. “Lobsterhead,” “Rid of You,” a cover of Bailter Space’s “Fish Eye” and “At One With Time” (remade from a 1990 45) are all juicy morsels set on cool fire by endless layers of bristly guitar. Forcing Monahan to sing harder is actually beneficial; Todd Cronin’s zealous drumming also falls in comfortably with the bold rock surge.
Recycling “At One With Time” from the album, recalling the careening “Blank” from a single and the comic “Girlfriend on Drugs” from a Danbury compilation, Monsterland only had to come up with three new numbers to fill out the ’94 EP, which is a backpedaling blunder for a band that seemed to be making strong forward progress. “Jane Wiedlin Used to Be a Go-Go as Far as We Know” is a brilliant title — too bad the lyrics couldn’t find any use for it in an altogether forgettable song. Monsterland broke up later in ’94. Vegas formed a new band and Monahan joined the Lilys.