The one thing that you’re told all the time as a child but never appreciate is just how terrible it is to be an adult. The crushing grind of life seems somewhat distant when you’re worried about what your GCSE and if you’re going to be able to have a glass of wine at Christmas dinner this year. But grown up life, with all it’s mechanisms, pitfalls, nepotism and depressing realism is a harrowing work-wheel of surviving. A political conscience has been something missing from popular music of recent times – scripted lip-service from the likes of The Enemy has been pretty much all the mainstream has had as a representative experience of being young, working class and ignored.
Let’s be clear, The Enemy are and always have been beyond terrible. ‘So sick and tired/of working to be retired’ hardly even qualifies as a rhyme, nevermind a commentary on society’s ills. Bland, anthemic indie rock for a generation that loves bland anthemic indie rock to drink cur price vodka red bulls to. Monster Island are nothing like The Enemy. For a start, they’re from up North rather than Coventry. On top of that, they actually make music worth getting excited about, tracks that are suited to dirty basements instead of wipe-clean student clubs. Switched on, engaged and informed, the songs are political without shoving it in your face, lines filled with experience and knowing whilst never, ever being smug. The grimy, bass that drives that sound is a constant throughout, the tuneful drawl that holds together the acerbic near-spoken word vocals.
The barely concealed anger and gloom that hangs over everything they do isn’t likely to win over the masses, but this is the view from provincial lancashire, informed and equipped with razor sharp wit. There are thousands of bands who can pump out catchy riffed pop songs, but this is the kind of distorted, brooding brilliance that is inimitable. They’re genuinely funny as well, the poetic delivery of the lyrics gives gravitas and added humour, the claim that ‘i turn myself into open collar corporate cocksucker’ countered by ‘i began to live the life diverse/combining lynx show gel with gilette anti-perspiration’ on Open Collar, in amongst others. Elsewhere the couplet ‘I experience that peculiar brand of shame/that usually only comes with having a biblical name’ is a better opener than many poets manage in their entire lives.
Their second album, The Anchor, is available for free on bandcamp, and it comes close to capturing their visceral live performances – which, if you’ve caught them playing before you’ll know, means it’s definitely worth downloading.