Monsters & Heroes is the debut album from Bristol’s Shoun Shoun, their first release since 2019 EP A Hundred Trips which received favourable comments from 6Music’s Tom Robinson. But, whereas the EP had a more laidback, noir-lounge vibe the band have ramped up the power for this release.
From the off on ‘Did I Play Games’ guitar chords arc like solar flares punctuated by quiet passages of floating-in-space vocals. There is a theatrical swagger to many of the tracks, like a Berlin Cabaret take on the New Wave of Lene Lovich or Hazel O’Connor on songs like ‘Much Sweeter’, ‘Follow Me’. ‘Refresh & Replay’ and ‘Sway With Me’ have the tumbling drums of The Creatures channelling Lotte Lenya, and there is also a German language version of ‘Sway With Me’ which is just perfect. There’s the nightmare ghost train ride of ‘Toxic’, which jangles with an infectious guitar riff and gritty arpeggio, ‘Stuck’ with its low slung bass and a nervous guitar line picking at the threads of the song, and the wonky-pop of ‘My Daughter’.
Vocalist, lyricist and guitarist Annette Berlin says of Monsters & Heroes “The album is a fractured collection of songs, reflecting how fractured a period of time the last two years have been. Half of the songs were written and recorded before the lockdowns began and the other half recorded once the band could be together again. Some of the tracks were written in my loft during lockdown as a way to cope with the loneliness. It was all done in complete DIY fashion”.
The album may have been a DIY effort but Shoun Shoun have made it shine like it was meant for the Kit Kat Klub and harnessed the energy of new wave but placed it in a more dramatic context. Rather than just rely on raw power they have moulded their sound into something stylish and intelligent and I could easily see them playing a set at the Tate Modern or MOMA.
Shoun Shoun are Annette Berlin – Vocals, Guitar, Boris Ming – Violin, Synth & Backing Vocals, Giuseppe La Rezza – Drums and
Ole Rudd – Bass
Shoun Shoun Live:
January 28th 2022 – Rough Trade, Bristol – Album Launch Show
February 10th 2022 – Le Pub, Newport
February 12th 2022 – Paradiddles, Worcester
March 19th 2022 – Glastonbury Calling, Glastonbury
May 1st 2022 – Astral Fest, Bristol
July 9th 2022 – Somerstock, Somerton
July 16th 2022 – The Godney Gathering, Glastonbury
September 3rd 2022 – BOSfest, Burnham On Sea
Review by Paul F Cook