Monster Island – The Anchor
Well now what to make of this? One thing is for sure, it’s a very Lancastrian release, full of wry observations and harsh sonic clatter. Stylists will immediately say that the ‘Island draw on the work of a certain psychicke poet from Manchester, and to an extent that is true, but to merely bracket this band as one that follow a well-beaten path would be missing a point somewhere down the line… There’s a steely determination to opening tracks like The Anchor Age and GBC Trees, that hooks you in. Maybe it’s because the band never aims to please, and the music is boosted considerably by some acerbic lyrics and a delivery. Tracks can become a woozy, slightly drugged plod at times, reminding one, (if we’re going to be fashionable) of Amon Düül 2’s Yeti played at 16rpm, or the Fugs after about 16 pints of mild.
So there you have it, heavy, interesting going, and music that can paint a grim mental image; as can Darwen, (the band’s hometown) to be honest. But sometimes there is a slightly damp glory about the whole thing, the chord and tempo change in Hi Noise or the stop-start chugging of Typewriter being good examples.
As I’ve hinted before, by far the best thing about the whole release is the lyrics: in some ways the music plays a secondary, supporting role. They are slightly mental, and throw up some startling images: “Sepia glances from colleagues in Hallways” from Push the Billet In. Or the magnificent rants in Gettin’ Warmer and the marvellous small-town strut, Open Collar: “Combining Lynx shower gel with Gillette anti-perspirant” is another line that I can’t get out of my head…
The best is left till last, Sunflowers is a fabulous rumble, sounding like a sixth-form band rehearsal with lyrics that defy description, something about the second coming of an insect or a reptile (I can’t suss it) with mentions of the “Con Club” and sunflowers growing through Astroturf.
Words: Richard Foster