Four years after Blackout States, (reviewed here), this is Michael Monroe‘s coming-out-on-the-other-side of-my-mid-life-crisis album, where he tells us he’s got no more time for those “Wasted Years” he refers to in his autobiography, and fully accepts “The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider”, which let’s face it, he’s always been, except perhaps to popular music culture’s cognoscenti.
This new album, One Man Gang, sees Monroe once again draw deeply from his bottomless well of catchy tunes, all embedded in the band’s stratified skin, creating a carelessly layered, organic, overlapping sound, where everything bleeds into everything else, a product of the band’s rich bloodline – Sami Yaffa and Steve Conte, both ex New York Dolls, Karl Rosqvist, ex Danzig, and Rich Jones, ex Black Haloes, and of course, Monroe himself, a kissin’ cousin of almost all of these bands.
‘One Man Gang’, ‘Last Train To Tokyo’ and ‘Black Ties And Red Tape’ are mini epics of sonic brilliance, loud, fast and fun, rolling back the years, stringing together rapidfire verses and stadium straddling choruses. Thoughts of life and old dogs.
There’s a place too for socially aware comment and a timeworn perspective. While the blissfully thunderous ‘Junk Planet’ transmits the message “this place is ready to blow…”, both ‘Midsummer’ and ‘In The Tall Grass’, leavened by sunburst harmonies and sugar rush hooks, sing of dashed hopes and youthful disappointments. And the fact that they sit in amongst the chunky garage rock of ‘Hollywood Paranoia’ and the powerpop charm of the mariachi fuelled ‘Heaven Is A Free State’ is the main reason why this album works so well.
When you add it all up, there can be no denying the man’s rock genius. Though he may not take that as a compliment.
- Reviewed by Brian McGowan
- Released by Silver Lining Music 18 October 2019
- Band Website
- One Man Gang
- Last Train To Tokyo
- Junk Planet
- Midsummer Nights
- The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider
- Wasted Years
- In The Tall Grass
- Black Ties And Red Tape
- Hollywood Paranoia
- Heaven Is A Free State
- Helsinki Shakedown
- Low Life In High Places