The Edge's chiming tones and Eddie Van Halen's fret-singeing finger taps are certainly more recognizable, but the staccato snarl of Rick McCollum's guitar is arguably no less distinctive. For 15 years, as the lead guitarist of the chronically underappreciated Afghan Whigs, McCollum provided the angry backbone to the band's soulful sound. Three years after his return to Minneapolis, following the Whigs' dissolution in 2001, McCollum picked up the guitar once again, this time for a musical venture dubbed Moon Maan. On the band's self-titled debut album, McCollum displayed a surprising predilection for classic rock, his riffs no longer coursing with venom but still bracingly immediate, with opener "Be Good to Me" a stunning exemplar.
Monomania, the band's new three-song EP, continues McCollum's singular fixation with stripped-down, classic rock, albeit without the same sense of urgency heard on the full-length. Aside from a few rousing moments on "Stand Up," Monomania sputters where it should surge, with McCollum's bluesy phrasings providing a choppy musical backdrop for his gravelly tenor. The lounge lizard closer "Hero Moot" is especially unfortunate, reducing McCollum's guitar to mere accoutrement. Clocking in at just over 15 minutes, Monomania doesn't exactly wear out its welcome, but it's fair to say that McCollum's focus is sorely misplaced. Here's hoping their sophomore full-length, which is due out this fall, will find solid footing on the ground where this EP falters.