Monster Magnet - A Better Dystopia
This year has been an odd one for everyone with what seems to be an never ending Lockdown. For Musicians and by extension their fans the sands are shifting out of necessity and a real sense of hope that things will return to some semblance of normality. What will music and live scene look like post lock down is anyone's guess. In the meantime we have had Virtual Gigs as Bands and Artists look for different streams of Revenue to keep afloat or at very least survive another day.
In this atmosphere of uncertainty the idea of a new Monster Magnet album is a nice surprise, or should be. Long term fans of the band will know there are two distinct Monster Magnet vibes they move freely from one to another, depending on main man Dave Wyndorf's head space at that point in time. There is the psychedelic trip of Spine of God and Superjudge or the unapologetic gonzo rock of Powertrip and God says No. Occasionally mixing the styles with the redux albums Milking the Stars and Cobras and Fire.
However there has been a few missteps and the last studio album, the wonderfully named Mindfucker which the pre-release had hyped as a nod to the pure rock fury of the MC5. It was nothing of the sort . Turning out to be a forgettable tuneless turkey of an album. Played once and forgotten about. When it was announced Monster Magnet were to release a covers album initially my heart sank.
Cover albums by their nature are a stop gap put out by bands as a contractual commitment or musicians who have drained the creative well and run out of ideas. At their very best they can work and introduce fans to artists they might not know as in the case of Metallica's Garage days Re-revisited but it can more than likely go the other way like Saxon's inspirations which ironically is as uninspired both in track choice and execution as its possible to be. no needs to hear Zeppelin, The Stones or Deep Purple covers. it begs the question what is the point? who is it aimed at? completely pointless .The ultimate example off played once and put away forever.
Taking all this into account I approached A Better Dystopia with real caution. However the fact that the seemingly ageless Dave Wyndorf was a teen in late 60's and early 70's and openly a fan of garage music and freak out psychedelia meant this tracklist was never going to be the usual sabbath and Beatles covers. From Poo-Bah, the Scientists, Jerusalem and so on It's a roster of the obscure and the cult and all the better for it.
Starting the album with a recreation of an acid fried monologue by regional D.J. Diamond Dave (Not that one) is a left field move that sets up the whole album wonderfully. Once you go beyond the obligatory Hawkwind cover done to death by Many including Monster Magnet previously themselves, Born to go still moves at a good pace after that it's a time machine to a different age where split screen Volkswagen vans, 8 tracks, Keg parties and platform boots reigned supreme. it's a wild ride and a sledgehammer of an album. The wild abandon is infectious and it grooves in the right places and swings like a pendulum. The suped up riffs and attack of the songs bludgeons you into submission.
Monster Magnet pull of a neat trick of making this sound not like a collection of covers but their own songs. It sits nicely beside any of their back catalogue and if we ever get back to live gigs any of the songs here could slot in their set effortlessly. standouts on first listen are the aforementioned Poo-Bah's Mr. Destroyer and Morgen's Welcome to the Void but there isn't a bad track here .
If they can apply the enthusiasm and atmosphere of joie de vie surrounding this album to their next studio album it will be a (excuse the pun) a monster. In the meantime this is a unique anomaly of an Album. There is nothing new happening here and and if your not naturally inclined towards this music it won't move in the least but if you love your loud retro guitar rock it won't sit on your shelf unloved. it is in fact a perfect soundtrack to your summer. it is a bold, swaggering, attitude driven calling card to the stoners, the freaks, the 70's rock obsessives. crack open a beer, fire up the bbq (and your bong if that's your preference) and play it loud enough that your neighbours hear it too.
Now where did I leave my platform boots?