Unpunished Monsters is the latest solo project from ex Dial F For Frankenstein and current Kill Murray member Gus Rogers. Anyone expecting the riff heavy grunge of Dial F, or (if the live previews are anything to go by) acute indie of Kill Murray is likely to be disappointed however as Unpunished Monsters is an electro-fuelled venture, all looped disco grooves and soulful melodies grounded in an electro-pop playground. And it’s really rather great.
Synth-orientated and concise, this EP makes for a great listen and is excellently crafted for a debut. Throughout the five tracks, there is a lingering desire to hear the tracks really take flight, which never really happens, but the music that is on show is accomplished and unexpectedly groovy.
Opener ‘Negative Capability’ is a TV On The Radio inspired pop-jam with some serious 90s throwback synths, not to mention deck-scratching; you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you it strangely works. Rogers’ voice holds up well in this setting and although there is room for his voice to develop as a soul singer, it’s a confident demonstration in knowing your strengths and sticking to them as the hook is given space to carry the track without any major developments
Leading straight into ‘Palace Guards’, a spacious, meandering track that feels equal parts Radiohead and The Music, the confident nature of this EP grows. Rotating synths and excellent production build in a track that could easily find itself on a late night dance floor while also opening itself up for huge remix possibilities.
‘Moon Dance’ is dub-flavoured Jamie Woon territory, and although less refreshing than the openers, it is once again delivered with flourish and taste. The same can be said for closer ‘Day Dreamer’, littered with house grooves and spaceship flecks it is as enjoyable as it is generic.
Strongest track is the brilliant ‘Neon Lung’; darker than its accompanying tracks with a vocal approach that makes the most of Rogers’ voice more than anywhere else on this EP as its distorted and affected in a Kid A type of way. The riffs, with their rock leanings are made only more brilliant by the guitar solo shining through before the whole thing suddenly bursts into life as a drum’n’bass hoedown.
Unpunished Monsters has the potential to be one of Oxford’s finest dance-orientated outfits, less aggressive than Coloureds but equally fixed in bringing the party to its listener. Wearing your influences on your sleeve is by no means a bad thing, especially for a new project, but if Unpunished Monsters can find a way to manipulate these sounds into something to truly call their own and find a way to expand on the ideas here without losing sight of it’s pop edge, Oxford may well have its next act to emerge from its growing electronic scene.
The Unpunished Monsters EP can be downloaded for free here and I highly suggest you hop to it.