Sensory Overdrive

Michael Monroe

Spinefarm Records, 2011

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Following two stints fronting Finnish glam rock outfit Hanoi Rocks (1979-85, 2001-09), Michael Monroe put a new band together and set about writing and recording a new solo album. Recorded in late 2010 and released the following year, Sensory Overdrive is Monroe’s sixth solo album and one of his best with or without Hanoi Rocks.

Joining Monroe and veteran rock producer Jack Douglas are former Wildhearts’ frontman Ginger on guitar and vocals, Steve Conti (guitars and vocals), former Hanoi and New York Doll Sami Yaffa (bass and vocals), and Swede Karl Rovsqvist behind the drum kit. Although the album is a Monroe solo project, it is very much a band album as the entire album is written and performed by the group. Although there is a slight scent of nostalgia wafting through these tracks, it is an undeniably fun and hard rocking collection of tunes. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Two of the strongest tracks here are Ginger originals, “Superpowered Superfly” and “Later Won’t Wait.” The former is a little bit ska and a little bit punk in attitude and the latter is straight-up glam rock. Opener “Trick Of The Wrist” is vintage Hanoi Rocks and sets the tone for what is to come perfectly; it’s fast paced and Monroe is up for it – “Now people tell me I ain't ageing / I'm keeping thin and my looks ain't fading.”

“78” was released as a single and gained some acclaim. It’s a fun anthemic rocker followed by the ass-kicking speed rock of “Got Blood.” “Modern Day Miracle” is a plea to return to the simpler days of old, which is immediately followed by the defiant “Bombs Away,” another highlight. The pace only slows for the autobiographical and surprisingly poignant “All You Need” and again for a country-tinged rocker “Gone Baby Gone,” which Monroe wrote with Ginger and Yaffa. It’s a pleasing addition to the mix that is wonderfully enhanced by Lucinda Williams’ backing vocals.

“Centre Of Your Heart” takes up where “Modern Day Miracle” left off, and to close the alum out we get another guest appearance – this time by none other than the late great Lemmy Kilmister. Lemmy co-wrote (and sings on) the blistering closing track “Debauchery As A Fine Art,” which is an ode to the excessive rock and roll lifestyle championed by both of these guys for a long good time.

Sensory Overdrive kickstarted a creative rush for Monroe that has seen him release three more studio albums, the most recent being last year’s fantastic One Man Gang. It’s a very solid modern day glam rocker that, at just a tick over half an hour, never wears out its welcome.

Rating: B+

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