We all have things we like more than other things, that hit certain buttons or pleasure points. And the moment the title track started I was like “This is for me”. I love carnivalesque music in places where it shouldn’t be, for whatever reason, and the lead off track to an album by a band I’ve never of is a good place to find it.
The Monochrome Set are one of those British bands that straddle the New Wave/Post Punk line a lot more than you think from how often those two genres are incorrectly lumped together. It’s only a select group of bands that manages to make both kinds of music, and they’re one of them. There are songs that sound like pure new wave and songs that sound very at home on the stranger fringes of British post punk. I’m for labeling them new wave, personally, if you care about these things.
The reason why is because the influence of American new wave bands is pretty prominent. These guys are a little like a reined-in, extremely British Pere Ubu who actually want to write conventional pop rock songs, some of the time. Bid is a far more conventional singer than Thomas (who isn’t?) but, musically, that description sometimes sort of fits. And then they go off into one of their little instrumentals and they sound like the musical forefathers of Camper Van Beethoven without the world music.
So yeah, somewhere on the long journey between new wave and college rock/alternative, there’s thing thing – too quirky to really be considered “second wave new wave” (as far as I’m concerned) but way too accessible and conventional to fit in with post punk.
If any of that appeals to you well I think you should check this out. It’s certainly not the most original take on new wave but it likely seemed pretty distinct in Britain, at least to anyone who wasn’t listening to American new wave at the time. But it’s fun, it’s clever and it’s never boring. And, rather importantly, it’s pretty damn accessible for this kind of thing.