A cryptic creative project that carves its own path, Mungrel seems to revel in its status as music’s black sheep. Built from the archaic form of the word mongrel, Mungrel is a self-described ‘entity of indefinable breed’, a ‘personless pseudonym at a time where person is product’, and much, much more. The culmination of a lifetime’s worth of experience, lessons, and wisdom, as well as the promise of more to come, Mungrel is a stark and unyielding reflection of life in our modern age, capturing the highs, lows, and enduring plateaus that we all must eventually face.
Fiercely independent and with a seemingly unparalleled drive, Mungrel first stepped out of the shadows a few years ago with their eponymous debut album, determined to set their own standard and write their own journey through music. Something of a hidden treasure, the album has quietly flown under the radar since its initial release in 2018, but after being brought to our attention again last week, we’re determined to make sure it doesn’t get missed again.
Offering eleven tracks of unpolished, soft-rock sounds, ‘Mungrel’ finds its feet in more mellow and textured musical territories, offering an indie-laden glimpse at the creative prowess behind the project. Opening number ‘The Sins of My Rivals’ fades into view on a minimalist stream of soft percussive strikes, swirling melodic tones, and subtle acoustic guitar, building a foundation for faded vocals and an explosive transition into more electric overtones. An off-kilter production, ‘The Sins of My Rivals’ careens between nostalgic rock sounds and more modern alternative leanings, shaking off traditional formats or set stylistic patterns in favour of more organic musical wanderings.
Second track ‘Lately Elliot’ hits with a far greater sense of immediacy, bringing some gentle pop energy to pronounced rock aesthetic. Built to last, the song is wonderfully tactile, cutting deep with an emotive sheen that ebbs and flows as the vocals wrestle to be heard. It’s a classic slice of 70’s inspired soft rock that fans of old will surely get a kick out of, bolstering the album significantly and preparing listeners for things to come.
Third track ‘Radio 4’ strikes a heavy tone, screaming through layers of distortion and immutable electric guitar. An abstract track that delivers an intriguing crossover of sounds, it’s a divisive moment for the record. Following number ‘Venom’ carries on the more energetic sound, offering a vague punk spirit that crashes down upon rough production, an explosive DIY sound, and some interesting vocal shifts. Fifth cut ‘Call Me, Don’t Call’ offers some subtle nods to New Order between a few emotive flourishes, while ‘Did You Lie?’ creeps into view on the back of some deft country ramblings, opening up another side of Mungrel’s sound that has been kept under wraps until now.
Lead single ‘Hey Man’ arrives as a compressed, but melodic rock anthem wrapped in a static and unfortunate distortion, pushing the album towards a lingering and somewhat confusing finish. While ‘Chemistry’ spark with some final hour brilliance and clarity, ‘Post’ breaks into more art-noise territory, reshaping the album in a totally unexpected way, before it all falls back into the drifting, melancholy sounds on ‘Ghosts’ and ‘If You Want Out’.
There’s so much that can be said about Mungrel’s debut, and it must all be taken with a pinch of salt. Swaddled in raw, and in some cases, practically non-existent production, there is a constant sense of wondering as to what the album could have been, and while the brash, DIY style works perfectly for some tracks, it doesn’t often translate to the more heartfelt and gentle moments. Mungrel’s vocals and lyrics manage to, for the most part, reflect the emotion and humanity behind of each the tracks, shaping the songs into something that can be universally appreciated and connected with, it’s just a shame that it's sometimes a struggle to really hear them.
As an illustration of his sound and range, ‘Mungrel’ certainly covers a huge amount of ground, and you fully appreciate the artist dipping his toes into a visceral plethora of genres and styles to create his patchwork debut. While not a modern masterpiece or chart-topper, ‘Mungrel’ has definitely set the stage for bigger things to come.
‘Mungrel’ is available to stream and purchase now on YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon.