Review Summary: They'll be your best friends, but will we?
In the absence of a search for the Holy Grail, the music press (at least the shady, ghetto-ised, bribe-ridden section thereof) continually try and chase down the ever-elusive yet somehow-always-there shadow of the Next Big Thing™. Given that the UK has created a semi-ironic genre of its own dubbed ‘landfill indie’, it’s no surprise when any group of four lads (it’s always lads) with stupid haircuts, a load of stolen ideas and jeans so tight they could give you haematuria is handed that week’s crown of thorns. Since The Libertines kicked off the first real post-millennial surge of greasy guitar bands we’ve been force-fed some outrageously bad groups who are built up quickly and taken apart slowly; The Kooks, Pigeon Detectives, The Others, The Futureheads and so on and so on and so on. Even Franz Ferdinand survived the first wave of scepticism before being buried later on. I literally don’t know if all of the band’s members are still alive.
…and so here we are! A new lamb to the slaughter. Step forward, Palma Violets (PV); named after that foul bit of confectionary and perhaps equally as divisive. Formed in Lambeth, London (a pre-requisite to being talked about in the British music press, fact fans) and hardened warriors of something like three gigs, they were suddenly propelled to the top of the bill in all regards with no rhyme or reason. Suddenly, THIS is the soundtrack to your life. The rapid ascension of PV is a stark reminder of how blatantly hypocritical the vast majority of mainstream music journalism can be. Constantly bemoaning a lack of longevity, the press actively campaigns against piracy, against venue closures, for the proliferation of readily available and affordable independent music. It then changes mood like a schizophrenic, lashing out against bands barely out of short trousers for not delivering the goods immediately. Next, it rails against how the internet is creating too much music with no quality control. Indeed, the NME’s review (here we go!) states that 180
is “not in the spirit of ‘show us how good you are’, but ‘prove to us how *** you’re not’.” Excuse me? What kind of message does that send out to musicians, young or old, looking to make a bit of headway? It’s like trying to impress a constantly disappointed retired Army Major father despite the fact he is never actually at home.
But let’s talk about the reason we’re (allegedy) here: the music. Does it justify the hype? Of course not. It never would have anyway. As it stands, 180
isn’t actually that a good of an album in its own right. Opening track “Best Of Friends”, the one that flicked the switch on the hype machine, is a fun and boisterous effort that ticks all of the boxes; expansive sing-a-long chorus, propulsive bass line and a catch-all message that should get all the drunken gig goers singing and hugging. In fact, it’s such a successful formula that they decide to repeat it almost note-for-note on “Last Of The Summer Wine”, “Step Up For The Cool Cats” and then offer dull variations on the mix again throughout the rest of the album. Each song sounds terribly similar to each of the others and the muddied production is a testament to blandness and boredom.
So, there you have it; young lads just starting out make poor-to-average debut record. Not an unusual occurrence, and no doubt a thousand other albums released that day were no better or worse than 180
. Still, they’ll go on tour, have a laugh, take some drugs and get their dicks sucked by some Camden slags. Make the most of it, boys, lest your head be caught in the vice marked “backlash.”