Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Album Review: Mr Splashy by Wonk Unit

Wonk Unit are releasing a brand new album. This is exciting news in the world of punk rock music. The much adored Londoner's new album, Mr Splashy, comes out on TNSrecords on the 23rd of September. I was lucky enough to get an early copy.

Mr Splashy starts out with the song Awful Jeans. Starting out with Wonk Unit leader Alex, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of punk rock. If a song comes on shuffle that you don't recognise, as soon as you hear him sing you know it's Wonk Unit. Awful Jeans is a fun punk rock song about a terrible pair of trousers. Wonk Unit aren't always the most serious of bands, but bands don't always have to be deadly serious. It's good to have fun. That being said the lyric "There's Kiddies In The Sweatshop, For Primark And Top Shop, Just So You Can Wear Those Awful Jeans" is kind of hard hitting. Up next is a song named I Told You So. This song has a much more traditional punk sound to it, something that long time Wonk Unit fans will know they often stray from. I Told You So is a track about being right when someone has ignored advice you've given to them. The advice given in this instance is about having rubbish tattoos. I found this quite relatable - a friend of mine has terrible tattoos that he regrets. I imagine most people have a friend like this. Bin Him is a foot tapping, head nodding, hand clapper of a song. It's a song about leaving someone who is abusing you in a relationship. Heavy stuff. I think it's a song about empowering people to find the strength to stand up for themselves when times are unimaginably hard. Something I really enjoyed about the song was the addition of a female vocal to accompany Alex, this adds a lot of power to the song.

The fourth song on Mr Splashy is titled And You Call This Normal. And You Call This Normal feels as much like a poem as it does a song. If you have seen Wonk Unit live you will know that Alex often recites poems on stage between songs so it's no surprise for something like this to pop up on the album. This poem is beautifully accompanied by some acoustic guitar and some cello that really pull on your heart strings. A really powerful and emotional song. Silly Voices is a lovely love song. There is plenty of the traditional Wonk Unit lyrical charm in the song. Lines such as "But We Just Work, There Ain't No Drama, Life Ain't A Fairytale And There's No Palava" and "In Bed Watching The Netflix, Watching The Bake Off, Holding The World At Bay, I Like My Humour Gentle, Because The World's Mental" as well as the simple chorus of "You're My Bird And I'm Your Geezer" stood out. Owen Meaney is the name of the sixth song. It's also the name of a Lagwagon song but isn't a cover. Owen Meaney is a short song with minimal lyrics but is sure to get a crowd singing along loudly nonetheless. Je M'Appelle Alex brings us to the halfway point of My Splashy. I loved the beginning of the track with the crunchy guitar and Alex's vocals setting up the song. The song is about the frustration of people asking for a guest list spot at a gig when the band needs as much money from the doors as possible. This is one of my favourite songs on the album. It's a faster aggressive punk song that builds from a slow intro into a snarling, venomous banger.

The opening song on the second half of Mr Splashy is another song in the style of poem. Old Train is a song about old style trains and the fun/mischief you could get up to on them. Going again with the stripped back acoustic style. The cello in particular adds so much atmosphere to the song and the brass gives the song a much bigger feel. Ode To Summer is a fast paced punk sing-a-long. One of my favourite Wonk Unit songs ever, it's about being thankful for having a nice summer season. It's not going to change the world but it's the type of song that puts a massive smile on my face. At just one minute and thirty-one seconds long the song is quite short but there is a feeling of epicness about it. I can imagine this being a great set closer for Wonk Unit. Pale Moonlight is another different sounding song. Wonk Unit have a great skill in writing very diverse sounding music. Keeping within their distinctive punk rock sound, Wonk Unit tread slightly into a dancey/pop vibe on the track. The next track, Model On The Northern Line, is another song that sways into the pop world. The chorus in particular will be stuck in your head for days. Alex sings the lines "I Think Only In Diamonds" over and over and you will too.

Old Man sees the pace get picked up and for me this is when Wonk Unit are at their best. A straight forward punk song that you can sing and dance along with. It's yet another song that puts a great big smile on my face. The sound makes me feel very nostalgic, I can't quite put my finger on why exactly at the moment though. The penultimate track on Mr Splashy is named Hot Day You Know It and it tells the story of a hot day in London. I really liked the raw and rough sound of the music on this song, especially the distorted sound of the guitars. It gives the track slightly more of a heavy sound, something that we haven't heard on the record so far. Mr Splashy is completed with the song We Are The England. This is a song attacking all that is wrong with our country. Topics touched include propaganda in the media, selling all of our industry and the decline in apprenticeships for young people. Another stand out Wonk Unit song, not just on Mr Splashy but in their entire discography.

Mr Splashy is without a doubt my favourite Wonk Unit album yet. It shows of a lot of the strings on the Wonk Unit bow whilst always managing to sound like Wonk Unit. It's silly, thoughtful, provocative, sweet and, at all times, full of heart. Cracking job.

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