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Killer Bs Trip Saint Monday : Saint Monday "Restless" (**)

November 06, 1996|MIKE BOEHM

Saint Monday's music lives back in the Big '80s, as originally experienced on MTV and nostalgically revisited on VH1. The Costa Mesa group--singer Laura Mills, guitarist John Doyle, plus studio backup players--seems on its debut CD especially stuck on the archive's B file: the poppy hard-rock moves of a Benatar, the jangle of the Bangles and the sultry romanticism of Berlin.

One B that Saint Monday could have used more of is bucks. This cleanly recorded, eight-song disc doesn't sound muddy or cheap, but Mills has the sort of thin voice that needs bolstering with such time- and cash-consuming studio maneuvers as double- and triple-tracking of her vocals.

Instead, she goes it alone and unadorned, trying to bring the material to life with an assortment of drawls, breathy glides and growls. But the songs aren't strong or distinctive enough to compensate for the ordinary singing.

The best track, "Rebel," is a Bangles-leaning (with traces of Bowie and the Pretenders) tune that finds Mills wistfully deciding she's not wild enough to hang with a beau who's a true, convention-defying rebel.

Saint Monday, which plays Saturday at Cafe Yorba in Yorba Linda, seems to have made the same choice on a record that has its pleasant moments of good pop craft but doesn't dare anything more involving or intense.

(Available at the Virgin Megastore and Tower Records in Costa Mesa and from the band: P.O. Box 26723, Costa Mesa, CA 92799, or Web site: http://www.saintmonday.com.)

* Saint Monday plays Saturday and Nov. 23 at Cafe Yorba, Suite 404, 18210 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda. 7:30 p.m. (714) 528-4799. Also, Nov. 22 at the Gypsy Den at the Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. 8:30 p.m. (714) 549-7012.

Ratings range from * (poor) to **** (excellent), with *** denoting a solid recommendation.

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