When a copy of MO PHILLIPS’ new album MONSTER SUIT arrived here at Rock Father HQ awhile back, I had to do a double-take to realize that the room pictured on the cover wasn’t real. My eyes focused immediately on the greenish Monster Suit that is seen hanging on the back of a bedroom door, as if one of the ‘Honkers’ from Sesame Street had unzipped his business attire and left it right there. Then I noticed that the rug and guitar were made of paper and colored with crayon.
The Portland native mixes up his indie rock stylings with bits of folk, blues, and surf (which I particularly dig), prompting my daughter to insist that I pick up one of my acoustic guitars and start to “play with triangle” (Addie speak for “Guitar Pick”). Some bouncing and bobbing later, and MONSTER SUIT can be fully labeled “Kid Approved.”
With just the right amount of “weird” to grab the ear on the album opener, Toes, Phillips builds the album to a peak by the middle, delivering songs like Big Red Truck and Rollerskate Banana Peels. The vocal and thematic gender flip on The Princess and The Cowboy is particularly interesting as I speak with parents often who are still struggling with being set into stereotypes. Yes, girls can play with cars… yes, boys can play “house.” I’m also partial to Bed Head, as it’s something I’m familiar with, sorta like monsters…
Having had some experience with monsters in the past, I can appreciate Phillips’ desire to run down the hills of his town going ‘Whoooo’ in his Monster Suit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.
MONSTER SUIT is a 14-song collection that paces briskly to clock in at just 34.2 minutes, placing the album right in that perfect length zone for little ones’ attention spans.
The Rock Father™ Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
FTC Disclosure: A copy of MONSTER SUIT was provided to The Rock Father for review consideration.