The emerging Dublin scene continues to show no sign of let-up; the latest protagonists being dance-punk outfit Munky who have followed up on early trailers You’ve Got Male and One in Five with an extended-play release, the cheekily titled Un, Deux, Trois, Cat. Resplendent in psych-feline artwork, the outing consolidates Munky’s early promise and post-millennial lyrical oration. Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital may be stealing most of the headlines when it comes to the current Irish invasion, but the stylistic versatility which Munky bolt on to the tracks which see the light of day this week, alongside their no-nonsense wordsmithery, suggests a band confident of delivering no less than their much-heralded Dublin contemporaries.
“Zordon [is] a compelling four-to-the-floor shard of psychedelic disco-punk, described by its creators as ‘our attempt at a sort of trashy soul/funk tune’.”
Underscore Part 3 is excited to be chosen by Munky to premier the lead off track, Zordon; a compelling four-to-the-floor shard of psychedelic disco-punk, described by its creators as “our attempt at a sort of trashy soul/funk tune”. Pulsing bass and low-register picked distorted guitar build the tension briefly, before the song opens out into a loose groove dominated by slick riffing and Zac Stephenson’s intense treated vocal, as he alternates between bluesy howl and falsetto. “We crawl to the top, never knowing when to stop,” declares Stephenson without the barest hint of apology.
Zac Stephenson told Underscore Part 3: “The song is sung from the perspective of a man who will suppress his humanity in pursuit of attaining authority, status and power. It started off being tamer and reflective of negative aspects of my own personality but as the song progressed Conor (Lawlor, guitarist) pointed out the song has parallels with the issues of police brutality across the sea, and even some weird dodgy shite that happened at a “Take Back the City” protest last year at home. Irish police looking a lot like gangsters with balaclavas, using uniforms associated with acts of terror. Then the name Zordon made a lot more sense.”
“[Zordon has] the kind of neat finish that leaves you quietly punching the air at just how well it is nailed.”
In the midst of the freak-out, Munky treat us to a lulled baggy breakdown which shuffles with rolling bass, picked riffs and wah-wah reminiscent of The Stone Roses’ Fools’ Gold, before irresistibly building back up to a heavier finale, lead and bass guitars wrestling above the repeated crashes of cymbal before a tight multi-instrumental denouement seals the deal at the end; the kind of neat finish that leaves you quietly punching the air at just how well it is nailed.
Zordon features added colour from Taylor Maslanka and EVK on chorus backing vocals and was recorded with Dan Fox of Girl Band, to whom Munky credit successfully capturing their live energy to tape.
Cuck Rock splits the middle of the target just as effectively. Two-and-a-half minutes of punk-funk hybrid during which Stephenson unleashes a pinpoint-accurate stream of consciousness, laden with ironic humour and well-chosen expletives; in themselves containing more ideas, excitement and poetic turns-of-phrase than most acts will muster in an entire career. There is too much to even comprehend in one attempt and repeated listens are needed to fully appreciate the breadth of the barbs and precision-observations of sexual politics. This is territory already explored by Munky in One In Five, also featured on the EP and previously reviewed in Underscore Part 3’s favourable review last month. “An inferior race, or a fleshlight with a face?” asks Stephenson in Cuck Rock, with devil’s-advocate inquiry.
“The insistent riffing recalls the best of Jane’s Addiction, before launching into a heads-down hyped garage-rock coda.”
Munky again exhibit their willingness to disrupt formula, veering into a transition section where the insistent riffing recalls the best of Jane’s Addiction, before launching into a heads-down hyped garage-rock coda which leaves the listener gasping for breath.
First release from the EP, You’ve Got Male, froths with resentment at the attitudes and hypocrisy of the elite patriarchy; “I know you never take drugs but then you fucking take drugs/I know you’ll hide those wired eyes, white collars are your best disguise”. Stephenson delivers the polemic with sass and purpose, lampooning the perceived enemy and suggesting that even if the bad guys are on top for now, he’s got their fucking number. The song careers along apace, driven by more wah-heavy lead guitar motifs and a propulsive rhythm section; “the sacrificial lamb, it tastes the best,” assures the frontman.
Finally, Ms Communication is a mutating six-minute epic, moulded around the mantra, “we don’t wanna talk about it, we just wanna get fucked.” The song starts out with clean guitar chords and quietly percolating bass while Stephenson unfurls a plaintive vocal. Guitar then begins to agitate as themes of paranoia, doubt and suspicion infuse the song and bring a darker and more desperate connotation to the chorus; “push me to my limits or are you afraid I’ll touch the sky?” invites Stephenson. The gentle passages of instrumentation trade well with the increasingly frantic choruses.
Un, Deux, Trois, Cat is a great release, brimming with knowing swagger and intelligence. Munky have well and truly joined the party.