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Album Review

by Palma Violets

Rough Trade

Review Date
Reviewed by
Janine Harrison

Palma Violets are the current darlings of the UK music press. Formed at Reading Festival at few years back, because they felt they couldn’t relate to modern indie music, they have spent the past year writing songs and garnering fans and in that respect the Palma Violets have appeared from nowhere. Much has been written about the lead songwriters Chilli Jesson and guitarist Sam Fryer’s echoing their idols Pete Doherty and Carl Barat from The Libertines with their onstage antics, and in their music their influences are easy to hear; The Libertines but also The Clash and The Strokes being the most obvious.

Signed to legendary indie label Rough Trade, they recorded this album in 2 weeks, apparently to present the feeling of a live recording and it absolutely has that rough sound and energy of a gig. The flipside to that is that their choice of songs is hit and miss. For every “Best of Friends” - which is a glorious, arm around your best mate, drunken dancefloor, lager in the air guitar anthem - there’s a “14”, a pointless filler at the end of the album.

“Step up for the Cool Cats” was one of Zane Lowe’s Hottest Records and it truly is. The standout out song on this album by far, it manages to be both retro and completely of the moment. Beginning with the best organ solo this side of The Doors and Sam Fryer’s deadpan delivery of “You drive my car, around the bend…” it combines with an amazing pastiche of a chorus that is also joyous. “You’ve got me dancing in the Sun” indeed; my call for the festival tune of 2013.

“All the Garden Birds” and “Last of the Summer Wine” are quirky and full of energy, but from here on in the album falls back on to familiar ground. By which I mean The Libertines debut album. “Johnny Bagga Donuts” may have one of the great song titles of the year, but it is a dead ringer for “Horror Show” from The Libertines.

It was rumoured they were the guitar band we’d all been waiting for. Sadly, it’s all a bit too unforgettable; I listen to this album and it makes me want to listen to The Libertines, not put 180 back on repeat until my neighbours complain. Unlike other bands from this new crop of guitar bands (Peace and Fidlar to name but two) they’re almost too catchy, too straight as a die indie band, and it’s all been done before and better. There’s no doubting their authenticity, just their stamina.

180 is definitely a good album, but it’s not a great album. Still, a great 2013 is on the cards for the band so there’s promise that a more complete second album will follow.


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