Wonky Doll and The Echo – Pleasant Thoughts (album) (Geheimnis Records)
Don’t let the rather awkward band name put you off; Wonky Doll and the Echo, a post-punk quartet from Athens, Greece, more than deserve your attention.
‘Pleasant Thoughts’ is their debut album featuring nine tracks that successfully manages to recreate the sound and feel from the early 80’s new-wave post-punk records.
Where post-punk revivalists such as Interpol and Editors have incorporated modern elements (especially on later records), Wonky Doll and the Echo are more of a throwback to the era. That’s not to say the quartet can be written off as a novelty; quite the opposite actually – Wonky Doll and the Echo are the real deal and play with conviction.
More than any one specific band from that era however Wonky Doll and the Echo are most reminiscent of the Australian act and fellow post-punk revivalists, Ikon (listen to “Secrets Within” from their brilliant 1994 debut ‘In The Shadow of The Angel’).
“Physical” opens proceedings with a style reminiscent of Editors circa ‘In This Light And On This Evening’ crossed with The Chameleons (UK). A bass driven track coloured with vintage synths, textured guitar accents, and led by a vocal not unlike that of Tom Smith from Editors, the song follows a simple pop arrangement with a great hooky chorus. A brilliant opening track, which sets the tone and sound of the record.
“From Town To Town” is a more up-tempo number that takes influence from early Echo And The Bunnymen with guitars playing a stronger role before the synths of Konstantinos Antonakoglou take centre stage during the chorus steering the track in a more new wave area (think The Psychedelic Furs). Just listen to the stunning guitar melody at 2:35 until end.
The title track has some interesting texturizing and instrumental sections but is otherwise forgettable, missing the spark and hooks of the opening two tracks. “The Cut” more than redeems things though and is the highlight on the record. A blacker than black number that opens with a reverberated rhythmic guitar riff coloured perfectly by atmospheric keys before George Lemons’ almost-baritone vocals enter. Here, Wonky Doll And The Echo call to mind The National (particularly their stunning ‘High Violet’ album) vocally, as well as in mood and arrangement.
Angular Interpol-like guitar accents create a defining characteristic in the track ‘Obsession’, while “Something Is Wrong With You” sees the band head down an electronic route with early Depeche Mode influences mixed with inflections of Joy Division. Some brilliant heavily reverberated guitar passages sound throughout while a new wave keyboard arpeggio runs throughout the track.
The Joy Division influence is no more present than on “Treasure”, which uses Alesis Sr-16 style drum-machine beats to further pay homage to the era while closing track “When You Sleep” is a moody track, which incorporates some of The Cure’s ambience and brings to an end what is a highly enjoyable debut.
With nine tracks and only just over 30 minutes in duration, ‘Pleasant Thoughts’ is a extremely solid and consistent body of work that never breaks mood or strays from its intention. A great find for 2012 and highly recommended for post punk / new wave enthusiasts and purists.
Update 20 December, 2012: Wonky Doll and The Echo will be working on a video and short movie for “The Cut” but do it the dues it deserves the band need your help. Visit the Wonky Doll and The Echo IndieGoGo page for more information.
Update 29 April, 2013: The video for “The Cut” has just been released. Watch below:<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/64746966″>Wonky Doll and the Echo – The Cut</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user10427284″>Costas Gounaris</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Listen to “The Cut” below: