Friday, 8 June 2012

Album review: THE MONOCHROME SET - Platinum Coils

Highlights: Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome, I Can’t Control My Feet, Mein Kapitan, They Call Me Silence

Much like 2011’s Here Before, Platinum Coils marks a brilliant return from a largely forgotten post-punk outfit. And much like The Feelies did last year, The Monochrome Set not so much deviate from the sound of their relatively low-key heyday as make it somewhat more commercial, more lush, more appealing. Fine with me: most of the songs on Platinum Coils are superior to almost anything off Strange Boutique (their acclaimed debut from 1980).

So is the band’s signature quirkiness absent from this album? Well, not entirely, though we certainly have less of that, and with songs as amazingly catchy as the opening double attack “Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome” and “I Can’t Control My Feet”, you wouldn’t really mind (though I have a feeling that swinging hook line in the two songs is rather similar – however, what a classic hook line that is!). Actually, the album’s melodies are largely excellent, whether they go for Caribbean intonations (“Waiting For Alberto”) or predictably country-esque ones (“Les Cowboys”). The whole thing sounds memorable, charming and utterly convincing.   

Still, for all its consistency, Platinum Coils does lose me towards the end. “I’m Happy To Be Here” is an excellent proof of the point Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens makes in his terrific 10 Rules of Rock’n’Roll book. Meaning that the penultimate song on an album is also the weakest one. You could of course give me dozens of cases when that is not true, but “I’m Happy…” is so frustratingly unremarkable that you would have to fall for Forster’s preposterous/brilliant theory.

Sadly, the closing instrumental “Brush With Death” is no great shakes either. Just a perfectly decent, perfectly average, leisurely end to a great album from a forgotten, but reinvigorated band – that gave it another shot and didn’t miss it. Certainly not artistically.


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