The Monochrome Set are a lesser-known troupe of indie / post-punkers, although their influence was later visible in bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Divine Comedy. Volume, Contrast, Brilliance… Vol. 2 compiles a bundle of demos (home and studio) that span their 1978-1991 existence. On Tapete, with some informative liner notes.
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 24 March 2016
Arched of eyebrow post-punk troupe the Monochrome Set released their first collection of odds and sods and outtakes as ‘Volume, Contrast, Brilliance Vol 1’ back in their early '80's heyday. Now a million years later comes ‘Volume 2’ and this time it’s a 16 track affair with songs dating from 1978 to 1991.
Their early efforts are comical and brilliant. ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ is like the Velvet Underground fronted by Noel Coward and 1993’s ‘Cilla Black’ shows why a young Morrissey was rather taken with this band particularly in frontman Bid’s croon, similarly 1985’s ‘Love’ makes use of his lovely mellifluous voice with a lo fi slice of charming jazzy pop. No song title could sum up the Monochrome Set’s English worldview as much as ‘Whoops What A Palaver!’ which is a wordy comic slice of twisting pop partly sung in ‘amusing’ cockney accent. The album is presented in no chronological order whatsoever so it works nicely as an all over the place compendium - many tracks being alternate versions and works in progress.
There are some worrying moments around 1989 particularly with ‘I Want Your Skin’ and by 1991 they were sounding comparatively straight laced - not adverse to guitar solos and high gloss production but this is a veritable smorgasbord of enjoyable moments from one of the UK’s most unique bands.
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