There’s this funny thing that some quarters of the British music press seem to tend to do whenever a new young band play guitar based indie rock really well and write great songs and are exciting and interesting – they make bold claims of a ‘new breed of rock n roll’ or something about rock-n-roll being saved. And really it’s just that a new young band who happen to play guitars are just somewhere on the scale of pretty-good to awesome, and, despite assertions seemingly indicating the contrary, rock and roll is actually doing just fine and not, actually, in the dire need of saving. Last year, NME wet themselves over the, admittedly excellent, Best of Friends single by London quartet Palma Violets naming them “the most exciting band on earth”. And people accuse me of hyperbole.
Now, Palma Violets have a full length debut on Rough Trade, a whole sixteen months after they formed – the weight of NME baited breath heavily upon their young shoulders – “pleeeeeeease save rock and roll” the magazine wheezes while simultaneously naming, it should be noted, Psy’s Gangnam Style as the “50th best track of 2012″.
It’s not, then, really up to Sam Fryer, Pete Mayhew, Chilli Jesson and Will Doyle to ‘save’ rock and roll, is it? They are, just a band, and 180 is, just a record. Even if they did get Pulp’s Steve Mackey to produce it.
So, let us, then, in order to reset the balance a little, remove the unreasonable and unnecessary expectations from the album and try, instead, to be a little more objective. Aside from the undeniable swagger and wonderfully bellowed lead single Best of Friends – what else is on the table?
Well, in terms of album programming they follow it up immediately with the organ led rattler Step Up For The Cool Cats which shows some excellent promise that they can, indeed deliver. It sounds a bit like if Arctic Monkeys stopped wanking and actually made a song as good as Dancefloor ever again (they didn’t). Then later, Chicken Dippers offers a build and release that’s exciting and energetic – it’s definitely these guys schtick – and it works.
But elsewhere and most-where, ideas are, I fear, just underdeveloped and songs rushed into completion in order strike while the proverbial, and, in reality that isn’t NME – non-existent, iron is hot. I can’t help but wonder if Palma Violets were left alone to their own devices without the weight of being the ‘most exciting band in the world right now’ – they might have put out a couple of EPs; found their creative feet a little more. Or at least, just released this album, sans Pulp-production, on BandCamp or something. And it’d be fine, and, in a more natural course of events, after working out themselves what works and doesn’t work, they’d record a proper debut album that’d eclipse this, what seems, rushed effort to appease.
That all said, I’m not ready to write Palma Violets off as a hype-band. I stand by the better tracks on this album, although, perhaps just wishing they were an EP instead. I hope that they are not disparaged by the same music-media who built-them-up when they inevitably attempt to tear-them-down when this record doesn’t actually save rock and roll (because, remember, it doesn’t actually need saving) – and, I hope, in a couple of years, we’ll hear a sophomore that actually is freaking awesome and look back at their debut album sitting in the P’s of our record collection and smugly think “Oh yeh, I was into these guys when they started”, revisit it and informed by where they have taken these ideas to on their follow up and enjoy all the more.
RATING : GOOD
I have always struggled with a numerical scale; it feels so finite and arbitrary.
So the CHEESE ON TOAST scale looks a little something like this :
FREAKIN’ AWESOME / JUST AWESOME / REALLY GREAT / GREAT / GOOD / PRETTY COOL / NOT BAD / COULD BE BETTER / PRETTY BAD, ACTUALLY / NOT RECOMMENDED FOR EARS