The late 70’s / early 80’s post-punk scene is probably my favorite period of music. The music made immediately in the aftermath of punk reveled in experimentation, DIY recording techniques, and endless creativity. My top 10 albums would include at least 5 albums from this time period (though to be honest, my top 10 changes quite often). Bands that create this brand of music in 2012 usually fall within two categories – those that mine the original era for inspiration and sound like they are actually from 1979 and those that update the sound for the modern-day, sometimes losing the darkness that is the appeal (for me, anyway). Wonky Doll and the Echo are a modern post-punk band from Greece that fall into the 1st category.

The first thing to get out-of-the-way is the band’s name. The first things I thought of were the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory movies and the band Echo & the Bunnymen. At first there doesn’t seem to be a correlation, but dig deeper and you’ll see where I’m going with this. Echo & the Bunnymen of course are the great post punk band who everyone knows by the hit single The Killing Moon. There are two version of the Willy Wonka movie – the original with Gene Wilder and the re-imagined version with Johnny Depp. For all the strangeness that the more modern movie brought to the table, it was impossible to ignore that the original movie loomed larger than life. It could be stated that the original post-punk bands (Joy Division, The Chameleons, The Cure, Magazine, The Sound, etc…) have cast a shadow over the revived post-punk scene that really took hold within the last 10 years. Wonky Doll and the Echo hold their own against the bands from the original era.

The band’s press release states “Wonky Doll and the Echo is a post punk band formed in mid-2010. Their music can be described as a mixture of post-punk, indie rock with 80’s touch, incorporating a modern, unique sound which is sometimes minimalistic and sometimes enriched by ethereal guitars and atmospheric synths.” This is a very accurate description, but it doesn’t quite convey just how great their debut album is.

A silent scream (album highlights)

Physical gets the album started off with a bang. It really sounds like something from the late 70’s, prominent bass and smooth vocals by George Lemons. The bass carries everything but the guitar f/x are equally prominent in the mix. Extremely catchy melody. Key lyric: “You had denied that I was right / you broke the silence / in the night / you had to tie me around the neck / and throw the rock off to hell”

The Cut boasts a clear influence by The Chameleons, but this is no mere homage. Heavy bass carrying the track, melodic guitars, and amazing vocals. The vocals convey nuanced emotion perfectly throughout the track. Key lyric: “Paralyzed just try tonight / you glanced back no sight / mesmerised just try tonight / hold your arms say goodbye”

Something is Wrong With You features a call and response vocal trick that is simply perfection. Keyboards sound like early Depeche Mode while the rest of the music sounds like something off of the early albums by The Cure. Dread is in every moment of this track. This is my favorite song on the record, though that could change the next time I listen to it. Key lyric: “Something is wrong with you / Tease my anguish, tease my brain”

The album itself is only 9 tracks, which in itself is a nice throwback to the old days. It sprinkles synths and bass heavy tracks throughout and closes on another high point with the song “When You Sleep”. That track encapsulates everything that is great about the album – dark atmosphere, excellent musicianship, and perfect vocals. A modern post-punk classic. This comes highly recommended and is available on vinyl or download here.

Verdict: Gene Wilder’s Wonka

For fans of: The Chameleons, Joy Division, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode

Tracklist

A1 Physical
A2 From Town To Town
A3 Pleasant Thoughts
A4 The Cut
B1 Obsession
B2 Something Is Wrong With You
B3 The Right Direction
B4 Treasure
B5 When You Sleep

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