Album Review – Monochrome Set

Monochrome Set -‘Maisieworld.’ (Tapete)

“…Playful vocals sing of your frail organic nature, the sad dreams and hopes that you entertain, and the dismal decisions you make. Scenes of a different imagination tear you like brittle canvas and rearrange your portrait into another’s fantasy.

Upon your exit from Maisieworld, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that your vessel is now filled with abnormal thoughts.

Caution : May contain nuts. And bolts.”

Excerpt from press release.

…Of course, I’m not here to review the press release, but it does give some idea of the world in which you enter here…

This year marks forty years since the Monochrome Set formed. Led by Ganesh ‘Bid’ Seshadri, they rose out of the ashes of the B-Sides, which had included Stuart Goddard (the future Adam Ant).

This is, perhaps surprisingly, their fourteenth studio album. It’s a great insight into what makes them distinctive as a band. While I wouldn’t want people to cherry pick what they listen to on this album (c’mon people, it’s all of 33 minutes long! Find the time, as Five Star once sang), there are highlights on this record. Stage Fright,  the opening ‘Give Me Your Youth’ and the wonderfully titled (and ever so slightly sinister sounding) ‘Oh, Yes, I’m Going To Be In Your Dreams Tonight.’ Sounding so different to almost anything you will hear on mainstream radio as to be from a different planet (and all the better for it) these songs hold their own up against the songs of what is now decades ago like ‘The Monochrome Set’ and ‘Jet Set Junta.’ There are – unquestionably- people who can explain in more depth than I can about what is ver Set’s best work, but this is as good as any place to start with their work. The oft-repeated John Peel cliche about The Fall that they were always different, always the same applies to the Monochrome Set. It’s an equal successor to the band’s last record, 2016’s Cosmonaut.

It’s not just that it’s different from so much out there that makes this an entrancing listen. Sure, it’s not a groundbreaking record, but this is a great collection of songs and and attendant sounds. It’s somehow very reassuring that in this uncertain world that Bid and co. continue to produce their slightly quirky songs, a connection to a time when indie meant independent, as opposed to meat and two veg formulaic guitar work, as is so often the case. While members may have wondered why the former Stuart Goddard had much greater commercial success than they, four decades along, there’s still consistently great work coming from the Monochrome Set. There have been splits and hiatuses along the way, but whether the next album is two or ten years away, there’s a strong likelihood it will be worth the wait.

***1/2

Maisieworld is out now on Tapete

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