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Uncle Dysfunktional

Happy Mondays

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Album Review

Man, Uncle Dysfunktional has a really ugly, garish cover — but such a revolting image is the only appropriate art for a comeback album by Happy Mondays, for there has been no band that epitomized ugly and garish like the X-addled thugs from Manchester. Even when they got colorful, which was a lot, it was with nasty clashes of color. They didn't match and they didn't care, and that same sense of malevolent, cheerful sloth infects this, the first Happy Mondays record since 1992's Yes, Please and Shaun Ryder's first since the largely ignored 2003 project Amateur Night in the Big Top. This is called the Mondays, but most of the band hasn't shown up: only Ryder and his faithful sidekick Bez, plus drummer Gary Whelan, whose presence may be the only reason outside of marketing that this isn't called a Black Grape record. Then again, the Black Grape albums — particularly the excellent 1995 debut It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah — felt more like Mondays albums than Yes, Please, for Ryder was the sound and spirit of the group, no matter who was backing him as a band or pulling levers on the board. Given all that, why not reclaim the name? What else is Ryder going to do anyway? He seems to admit that directionless as much on Uncle Dysfunktional, as this isn't a bracing return to form as much as it is an acknowledgement that this kind of lecherous electro-funk is what he does best, so why not do it anyway? That might not make for a kinetic album, but there's a casualness to Uncle Dysfunktional that's appealing, as the tapestries of loops, samples, and synths have a filthy, lecherous quality that's kind of seductive, even if it's not quite irresistible. What is nice is that the Mondays pretty much steadfastly refuse to change — there are a couple of flourishes that identify this as a 2007 release, such as the blipping electronic bhangra of "Anti Warhole on the Dancefloor," but they're not forceful and they're swallowed out by beats that could have been heard ten or 15 years ago. Again, this doesn't seem like laziness as much as a shrug of "this is what they do," and there's something endearing about that. If only Ryder could have been arsed enough to really write some lyrics — or even some lines — that linger in the imagination, Uncle Dysfunktional would have had some longer staying power, but as it stands it's a not-bad-at-all comeback that's at least better than Stupid, Stupid, Stupid and it offers one stone-cold Ryder classic in the gleefully vulgar "Cuntrydisco," a hazy blend of Hawaiian steel, "Bob George" samples, silly voices, and nonsense that's as good as anything he's ever done — even if it does suggest that he could have done an album as good as this if he only bothered.

Customer Reviews

CALL THE COPS!! THE MONDAYS ARE BACK!!!

The Mondays are back. Quite honestly the greatest resurrection since Lazarus. Every track is a gem and stands up with the greatest stuff they've ever put out...and the production is the best they've ever had. Could be a Mondays greatest hits volume 2!

What A Surprise

This is so, so much more impressive than I thought it'd be. Tuneful and funky, this material is fresh and virile, exactly the kind of triumphant pop that the band could have recorded twenty years ago. Although the production is sketchy and clearly done on a bit of a budget, the music shines through regardless. A real return to form for the band, although its a shame that too few people are ever going to get around to hearing it.

Must Buy

At last new material. For nostalgic fans this is superb, takes a couples of listens but this is crammed with classics, Jellybean is awesome, In the Blood is sharp, Unkle Dysfunctional could be a another legendary track. For new fans this album is raw and a must buy album. Catch the band live, the new material sits nicely with the timeless classics. Can't wait for some more!

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Manchester, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Along with the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays were the leaders of the late-'80s/early-'90s dance club-influenced Manchester scene, experiencing a brief moment in the spotlight before collapsing in 1992. While the Stone Roses were based in '60s pop, adding only a slight hint of dance music, Happy Mondays immersed themselves in the club and rave culture, eventually becoming the most recognizable band of that drug-fueled scene. The Mondays' music relied heavily on the sound and rhythm of house music,...
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