[sic] Magazine

Wonky Doll And The Echo – Pleasant Thoughts

There are an abundance of bands around at the minute taking their cues from the 1980s. Wonky Doll And The Echo ‘s debut very definitely leans on the early 80s excesses of bands such as Simple Minds – with first track ‘Physical’ sounding not unlike ‘Promised You A Miracle’.

Things become a little darker with ‘From Town To Town’. Not dark as in the ‘gothic’ sense of the word which the band appears to crave – and despite the Sisters Of Mercy bass line in the middle of the track – but actually more like bands such as The Bolshoi (A Way), Blue Zoo (Cry Boy Cry) and Les Enfants (Slipaway).

One of the problems I’ve encountered with many recent bands whose members are born in the 80s is that the sound tends to be well executed and the production is top dollar – but the most important ingredient – the songwriting – is left unfinished (and in some cases is not much more than a single idea which is then developed in the studio – definitely not recommended unless you have a bulging chequebook or the considerable expertise of Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Green ).

There are plenty of individual ideas, for instance, on title track ‘Pleasant Thoughts’, but as a completed track it simply feels too drawn out and completely lacks a chorus. The verse is present and correct, there’s an instrumental break in lieu of a bridge, but then – just when you expect the chorus to kick in – it’s not there!! Instead the song returns to the verse. It’s as if the band had booked studio time but forgotten the most important thing – to actually write some songs. The same is also true of next track ‘The Cut’.

‘Obsession’ is possibly the closest the album gets to a track which could be released as a single. Once again it suffers from the same ‘no chorus’ issue – especially in parts of the song where the voice should be soaring – in its place there’s a rather flat melody line followed by a guitar riff which rather overstays its welcome, but there’s certainly more of interest within this track than during others on the album.

‘Something Is Wrong With You’ actually goes nowhere. It’s three and a half minutes of one idea, no real chorus, no middle-eight and then it ends. Really – what was the point in including it on the album at all??!!

‘The Right Direction’ is Into A Circle in another life. There are punchy gothic guitars but once again the song goes on too long and simply dies at the end.

By ‘Treasure’ I’m feeling fed up, to be honest. The band clearly aspire to be Clan Of Xymox and The Cure but instead leave us with a set of tracks which feel undeveloped and frankly need much more work. These songs feel more like a bunch of demos or works in progress than a finished album. Xymox are successful because they deliver punches at the exact moment – but when Wonky Doll are punching, there’s nobody there to hit. Guitar breaks are too long, vocals don’t soar at the right moments and songs simply die rather than endings being properly considered.

I can only wonder what the vocalist George Lemons is doing for the 3 minutes of guitar during closer ‘When You Sleep’. I’m presuming he’s left the dry-ice-covered stage in a sea of applause to allow the band to play out the set on their own for the remainder of the track, but in reality the musicians would be better off packing up and going home.

Wonky Doll And The Echo need to up their game considerably. Although they’ve clinched some important support slots with the likes of Clan Of Xymox and The Frozen Autumn , on the evidence of this album they will never move up from support slots unless they focus on the quality of their songwriting.