Release Date: Mar 17, 2015
Record label: Tapete Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Fans seem baffled that the quirky U.K. crew known as the Monochrome Set aren't bigger than they are, but every culture gets the chart-toppers it deserves, and this world has yet to prove it deserves such wit, style, and spindly riffs. If it did, a snide-and-smart rebellion like Spaces Everywhere wouldn't be necessary, since the opening smarty "Iceman" comes on as paranoid and alone as every maverick who must walk amongst the provincial ("The Iceman, the eggman, and something wicked cometh").
Whether there’s truth in the notion that a near-death experience heightens a person’s lust for life, it’s undeniable that The Monochrome Set have enjoyed something of a renaissance since frontman Bid’s near-fatal brain aneurysm in 2010. The London-based quartet quickly bounced back from the trauma with 2012’s credible Platinum Coils, arguably bettered it with 2013’s Super Plastic City and now unveil Spaces Everywhere: quite possibly their most essential waxing since 1982’s irresistibly suave Eligible Bachelors. The band’s integral elements (Bid’s laconic wit; Lester Square’s reassuringly eccentric guitar motifs; Steve Brummel’s inventive drumming) remain crucial to the plot throughout, but on Spaces Everywhere they’re fortified by palette-broadening textures such as vibraphones, banjos, Dave Greenfield-esque Hammond organ solos on Rawhide-esque rumble The Z-Train, and even some fragrant, Bryter Layter-style flute embroidery on the gripping, if slightly surreal, title track.
The Monochrome Set appear to have stood apart from so many of their peers more by virtue of what they didn’t do than by what they did do. Forming in 1978 for an original run that lasted until 1985, they never quite went for the bile of punk, the starkness of post punk, or the flash of new wave. Any rebellious streak the band might have had didn’t hit on the same notes as other rebellious artists.
Ten years after the peak of its revival in modern indie, early 2015 has been a hotbed of activity for year zero-ers such as The Pop Group (releasing only their third album in 36 years) and Gang of Four. Slipping way under the radar as they pretty much always have are The Monochrome Set. Spaces Everywhere is album number twelve for the North London post-punk veterans and their third album since reforming for the second time in 2012.
The Monochrome Set — Spaces Everywhere (Tapete)A generation ago, the Monochrome Set first jittered and crooned its uneasy mix of pop and surf Dada-ism to limited audiences. They were too suave and Thesaurus-literate to capture the pogo crowd, too jaggedly, nonsensically surreal to do much for the singer-songwriter contingent. And so they languished in cut out bins through the 1980s and beyond, noted mostly for their shared origin story with Adam & the Ants and their influence on the Smiths.
You probably haven’t ever heard of The Monochrome Set. Formed in north London in around 1978, their first single “He’s Frank” was released on Rough Trade in 1979 and throughout the first half of the 1980s they maintained a respectful distance from the onslaught of trends afflicting indie music throughout that time. Given that their earliest line-ups included Adam Ant and (unless I am told differently) the same Charlie Harper who went on to chart success with mainstream punks the UK Subs, you could have forgiven The Monochrome Set for quietly packing their instruments away and going off and getting proper jobs.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: discover ….
The Monochrome Set are one of those bands that I always wanted to hear more of their records. I have a few, sure, and the stuff I owned I really liked with their mix of melodicism, wry humor and ….whatever else that makes the band the Monochrome Set (the records weren’t the easiest to find in our country back then, either). For this record is band is still led by erstwhile leader bid along with two other originals, Lester Square (total rock and roll name) and Andy Warren along with a new drummer, Steve Brummel.