Wonk Unit are a band not easy to pigeonhole. This is possibly because they come across as having a higher modus operandi than merely playing catchy melodic punk music, which admittedly they do very well. It’s just that in Alex’s lyrical content which can switch from absurdist to heart-rending sincerity in an instant, in the snatches of shouted poetry between songs and in the acoustic moments of contemplation which are juxtaposed against the frenetic intensity of guitar and rhythm assault, there is the feel of a band who have truly found a niche within the punk rock world which no-one else has touched. They have now teamed up with the unstoppable TNS Records to release Nervous Racehorse, a perfect marriage of two groups who have gone channelled the spirit of DIY to create something very much their own. This is the end result of said marriage, a collection of musical curios which should intrigue as much as fuel the pit at your local independent venue.
Highlights? Highlights start from the very beginning with the acoustic guitar, Hammond organ and claps of ‘Wood Pigeon’, a mellow and haunting opening gambit before ‘Lewisham’ goes full throttle in a manner which would turn half of the late 90s Fat Wreck roster green. After a few listens while skating around the streets, ‘Lewisham’ is my favourite song on here so far and has trouble staying out of my head for more than a day. ‘Nan’ shows the band’s darker side, with a downbeat melody and a recurring yell which brings to mind the halcyon days of Brit Pop. From here on in you’re into the genre-fluctuating world of Wonk - anchored to punk as it is, but by a very long rope which has clearly left room for plenty of exploration. Songs of angst, love and troubled friends are penned with an honesty which is almost uncomfortable but is kept from becoming so by a wry humour and a sense of optimism throughout, as well as being lightened by moments like ‘The Trail (French Booty Song)’ which is redolent of So Long and Thanks… era NOFX. It’s a reminder of why we get into punk music in the first place; for the innovation, the excitement and the sheer fucking fun which stems from listening to it.
By Jono Coote