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If there was an award for the least eye-catching cover in the history of music, then Wonk Unit might just win it hands-down, for their new album, 'Mr Splashy'. The converse could, of course, be argued; that it's so amateurishly conceived, it actually draws your attention, for better or for worse. And first impressions, based on the cover art alone? An unpretentious, amateurish, DIY, punk album with an ever-so-slightly unhinged sense of humour. Well, amateurish this is not. The production, performances and some of the songwriting are all, surprisingly, very slick. Never judge an album by its cover art! That said, this is, in essence, punk at heart, with a little ska and reflective poignancy also thrown into the mix, so the cover vibe conveys the core genre at work. And the batty humour, of which there is more than a mild dose throughout.

Amanda Palmer predicted recently that “Donald Trump is going to make punk rock great again." While 'Mr Splashy' is not an album loaded with US-centric outrage, the globally affected liberal consciousness resulting from Trump's malignantly Machiavellian intent and nefarious ways could have part-fuelled Wonk Unit's inherent anger. Or not. It seems their socio-political concerns might be limited to home turf, seeing as the album's been described in press blurb as "the sound of dystopian London and, by extension, the UK, in full collapse". Either way, they aren't primed "to make punk rock great again" with 'Mr Splashy', although it's certainly a cognitively provocative, fun ride for those who chose to jump aboard.

Song-wise, we have 14 tracks that clock in at a mere half an hour, so it's generally a quick, punchy affair that never overstays its welcome. Compositional quality dips here and there, which leaves evident highlights amongst some more forgettable tracks. The album perhaps peaks with its opener, the stupendously anthemic 'Awful Jeans' with its amazingly catchy refrains. There's a ten out of ten track right there. Other highlights include the unpretentiously conceived charms of 'Silly Voices', and the mellow sentiments of 'And You Call This Normal' and 'Ode to Trains', both of which see some beautiful strings brought into the mix, along with vocal consonance. However, it's generally the punked-up, dissonant tones of Daddy Wonk's voice that are at work throughout the album, which are befitting of the band's chosen genre and the polemic overload in their socio-political discourse. And then there are songs like 'Ode to Summer' which, while not inherently bad as it's a catchy little number, feels more pop punk than grittily executed punk rock.

Overall, I have to assert that 'Mr Splashy' is a mixed bag, with ups and downs in terms of songwriting quality. However, it's all delivered with an undeniable passion, and carries with it a convivial ardour from start to finish. While some journos would have you believe this is "the future of punk rock" and the band have "found their own sound", the music on Mr Splashy is nothing particularly new, as there are too many familiar handles. When Wonk Unit hit their stride, however, 'Mr Splashy' does provide a great listen.
Plasterer Records
Review by Mark Holmes
31st March 2017
1) Awful Jeans
2) I Told You So; 3) Bin Him
4) And You Call This Normal
5) Silly Voices; 6) Owen Meany
7) Je M'Appelle Alex
8) Old Trains; 9) Ode to Summer
10) Pale Moonlight
11) Model on the Northern Line
12) Old Man
13) Hot Day You Know It
14) We are the England
"The production, performances and some of the songwiriting are all, surprisingly, very slick. Never judge an album by its cover art!"