Riding in on the first wave of post-punk (apologies for the inappropriate surfing analogy), The Monochrome Set got the ears and tongues of Edwyn Collins and Morrissey (back when people still respected him) wagging. The band have also been an influence on Graham Coxon, Divine Comedy and Franz Ferdinand. Their latest album Fabula Mendex, is based on the scribblings of Armande de Pange who was a pal of Joan Of Arc. History and indie pop all at once.
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A good concept album is better than a good album. Don't @ me. The best album the Kinks every did was 'Arthur' and 'Pet Sounds' by the Beach Boys is one of those towering, monolithic albums that only comes around once every decade. 'Fabula Mendax' by the Monochrome Set is a mysterious and sexy album based on manuscripts written by Armande de Pange, one of Joan of Arc's associates. You can hear the medieval influence, from the tinkle of the harpsichord on 'Eux Tous' to the slightly manic honk of a squeeze box on 'I Can't Sleep'. I think I even hear some Latin chanting on 'Rest, Unquiet Spirit'.
The main vibe I get from this album is that of a huge Bacchic celebration in a draughty castle somewhere. There's definitely a cabaret feel to 'Fabula Mendax'. It's wild and exultant but with a distinctly English mournfulness bubbling away under it. It's celebratory music but with all the creepiness of the celebrations in 'The Wicker Man' or even the dancing at Lost Hope in 'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell'.
If you like flagstones, Pagan rituals, hauntology, and songs that reference reliquaries and demons, then don armour and make ready your horse; 'Fabula Mendax' is for you.
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- Fabula Mendax by The Monochrome Set
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