Michael Monroe – Sensory Overdrive

Michael Monroe - Sensory Overdrive

Released on March 14, 2011 (Spinefarm Records/Universal Music)

Track List:
01. Trick Of The Wrist
02. ’78
03. Got Blood?
04. Superpowered Superfly
05. Modern Day Miracle
06. Bombs Away
07. All You Need
08. Later Won’t Wait
09. Gone Baby Gone
10. Center Of Your Heart
11. Debauchery As A Fine Art
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
12. Another Night In The Sun
13. You’re Next
Japanese Bonus Tracks:
12. Right To Be Wrong
13. Sleeping With My TV On

Band Members:
Michael Monroe – vocals, harmonica and saxophone
Ginger – guitar and background vocals
Steve Conte – guitar and background vocals
Sam Yaffa – bass and background vocals
Karl Rockfist – drums and background vocals

Additional Musicians:
Lemmy Kilmister – guest vocals (11)
Lucinda Williams – guest vocals (9)

Produced by Jack Douglas
Mixed and mastered by Petri Majuri.

After putting Finland’s legendary Hanoi Rocks to bed for good in 2009, Michael Monroe‘s solo career has continued to rocket. The success of Sensory Overdrive scooped Classic Rock’s ‘Album Of The Year’ award, claiming an implausible nod from thousands across the globe, and a walk of pride for critics who foretold predictions that this punchy number would unearth such an award.

Exceeding all expectations, this latest solo offering conjures up thirteen blistering tracks with an infinite sense of energy prevalent from the start. Bursting at the seams with anthemic qualities, the Nazareth inspired opener could easily be the soundtrack to Monroe‘s life. Although trading in the standard, sugar-soaked sound for something a little harder, faster, and stronger, “Trick Of The Wrist” echoes classics from the Hanoi Rocks-heyday of “Back In Yer Face” and “Power Trip” and retains the crescendo dynamics of sax solos that always did set the singer uniquely apart from the rest.

It’s clear production came under the influence of guitarist Ginger, whose sheer genius songwriting shines through in the form of anthemic number “’78” — a track combining softer elements of punk with a pinch of power-pop to complete the catchy riff, heavily akin to The Wildhearts‘ “If Life Is Like A Lovebank”.

Serving up a mouth watering bliss of punk at its finest, killer tracks “Got Blood” and “Bombs Away” come fully equipped with gang vocals and bad-boy attitude, rooted deep in hot-rod hooks surging power and speed that prove what a lethal combination Ginger and former New York Dolls slinger Steve Conte are when axes unite. Slower tracks “All You Need” and “Superpowered Superfly” sandwich between punkier elements of the album and help calm the heavy storm, providing poppy melodies and catchy sing-a-long choruses conveying crowd-pleaser syndrome.

“Later Won’t Wait” and the harmonica-stricken “Another Night In The Sun” (probably the most Hanoi Rocks-esque tracks on the album) take a trip down memory lane, stripping sounds back to 2002’s Twelve Shots On The Rocks with jazzy sax solos, angular riffs and vocal urgency that, when combined, hit the high end of euphoric.

But its collaborated numbers that make for a clever but careful play on the genre, particularly during the pop-country ballad “Gone Baby Gone” (featuring special guest vocals from US county-folk singer, and Grammy award winner, Lucinda Williams) that vocally preserves the trademark sound Monroe has forever rendered, while guitars take the soft-brush, country-tinged approach with bluesy licks very much suited to the forte of axe man Conte. Complimenting the punkier numbers on this album, “Debauchery Is A Fine Art” (co-written with Motorhead‘s Lemmy Kilmister) arguably demonstrates the ultimate does-what-it-says-on-the-tin combo. The fruits of this partnership may come as a surprise to those who have Lemmy neatly filed away in the section labeled ‘hard as fuck’, but surprisingly it works — rumbling and clattering amiably, from punky pillar to heavy post.

Sensory Overdrive serves up a platter of muscular riffs that are not afraid to put their boots on the table and stretch out. Its loud, its a ruckus, its fresh and it just goes to show that when talented musicians come together to write music the proof is in the pudding when a masterpiece is served — and hopefully it is the beginning of the fruits of a great partnership, and not a one-off ending.


Reviewed by Gemma-Louise Johnson for Sleaze Roxx, February 2012

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