The debut full-length from Melbourne quartet MOBS is an intriguing and arguably bold statement for a band in 2020. A frank love-letter to the 80s, the album shines with immaculate production and gloss that feels lifted directly from the iconic decade.
The performances are confident and precise, with clear nods to the likes of Genesis and Peter Gabriel, both of whom these songs owe a massive debt. Unfortunately, ‘Cinema Paradiso’ is a prime example of style over substance. The band seem so pre-occupied with emulating the 80s sound that little to no room is left for any shred of identity to be displayed.
Now, take for example the self-titled debut from The 1975. That record was indebted to artists of the 80s era; from Prince, to Wham!, to John Carpenter film soundtracks, there was clear influence and homage. However, the group also exuded enough undeniable charisma and character to elevate the material to much more than shoddy imitation.
MOBS, on the other hand, while showcasing clear talent and ability, seem to lack the songwriting chops and ear for hooks that need to co-exist with the bubblegum-pop 80s sheen. This leads to the bulk of tracks coming off as utterly repetitive and blending together, which is quite detrimental to a young group’s first release.
While tracks like ‘I’ll Be Back’, ‘Find Another You’, and ‘Close To The Sun’ are all sweet and catchy, there’s essentially nothing more to them. What’s worse is when an album sticks so firmly to one formula, if it isn’t executed meticulously the results are ultimately forgettable. The tracks are far from bad, mind, but are so frustratingly bland that it begs the question of whether the band are utilising the 80s aesthetic or merely hiding behind it.
Although potential is evident, it seems as if their focus should be on figuring out who exactly MOBS are rather than trying to remind listeners of iconic artists from a bygone era. Sadly, for now, ‘Cinema Paradiso’ feels less like the classic film that it’s named after, and more like a cynical, crowd-pleasing cash grab.
Lover of choons, flums, bukes and such. I like making music. I like writing about music. I like burgers and emo-trap. Also suffer from a slight case of knowitallism. I wish every song had a breakdown.