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The Happy Mondays - Uncle Dysfunktional

Happy Mondays, Uncle Dysfunktional

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

HAVING enjoyed something of a cult comeback following his Gorillaz collaboration Dare Shaun Ryder has now reformed The Happy Mondays for their first album in 14 years. And somewhat incredibly, it’s a pretty decent return.

In truth, Ryder’s vocals are now so weathered that they’re never going to recapture the glory days of the band’s Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches era – but they do their best to roll back the years. And the Mondays have always had the ability to conjure some consistently funky beats to compensate for some of the shortcomings in their vocalist.

Remember Step On or Kinky Afro? Both songs have a timeless quality thanks to the smart arrangement of beats and melodies.

The tracks on Uncle Dysfunktional conform to the same criteria and listening to many of its selections is rather like travelling back in time to the height of the Madchester era. For that reason alone, it’s worth indulging in.

Album opener Jellybean gets things off to a solid start – a funky/lazy beat wrapped around some cracking bass and slick electronics before Ryder’s shambolic vocals take centre stage. It doesn’t even pretend to offer anything new, and it’s clear the Mondays don’t intend to mellow with age. The lyrics talk of being naked and include such choice phrases as “it’s good to press my tits against the floor”. It’s a brand of hedonism that can only be associated with Ryder and co.

Angels & Whores drops some more emphatic guitar riffs for the type of rock out that could have wound up on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica LP, complete with a sample professing that “I’m a drug addicted alcoholic”.

And there’s some smart stabs of brass to usher in Deviants, another moody romp through hedonistic tendencies that finds Ryder’s vocals at their most pained and forced.

Incredibly, for all of its excess there’s only the odd dud track on the album (such as Rats With Wings – an achievement made all the more remarkable when considering how bad their last album, Yes Please was.

The cheeky Cuntry Disco trades slick beats with country guitar riffs and a laughably cheesy “cock a doodle do” intro that marks Ryder and co at their most playful, while the scuzzed up In The Blood excels from a kick-arse guitar riff and another feelgood back beat.

The dub-heavy Anti Warhole On The Dancefloor benefits from a stripped back, minimalist approach (that actually brings out the best in Ryder’s vocals), while Rush Rush is another song that just washes over you in a pleasant kind of way (complete with a chorus that’s made for chanting along to).

Dr Dick, meanwhile, fuses mouth organs and banjo licks with more X-rated lyrics for another gleeful romp of a record.

Uncle Dysfunktional won’t win awards for innovation, and it probably won’t recapture the success of Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches but for a Happy Mondays record, it’s a blistering return that really ought to make them cool, happening and funky all over again.

Download a free Happy Mondays track and watch a video

Download picks: Jellybean, Angels & Whores, In The Blood, Rush Rush, Dr Dick

Track listing:

  1. Jellybean
  2. Angels And Whores
  3. Deviants
  4. Rats With Wings
  5. Cuntry Disco
  6. In The Blood
  7. Anti Warhole On The Dancefloor
  8. Rush Rush
  9. Uncle Dysfunktional
  10. Dr Dick
  11. Weather