The hype surrounding Palma Violets since their mysterious inception in 2012 has been considerable. Everyone was to blame: the public, NME, Rough Trade, NME, BBC6, NME…you name them, they were all responsible. I succumbed fully to this and wrote various pieces on Palma Violets, praising their raw sound, exemplary DIY ethic and excellent clothing before having heard more than one or two songs. The result is that now their new album has ‘broken’, the result doesn’t match the hysteria. How could it?
This is by no means Palma Violets’ fault; the album is solid albeit predictable- owing rather hefty debts to many previous NME darlings. There is the scratchy chaos and endearing comraderie of The Libertines, The Modern Lovers’ pace and the louche cool of The Velvets all rolled into one enjoyable but derivative package. The highlights are very much found in the singles ‘Best of Friends’, ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’, ‘Stand Up For The Cool Cats’ et al, whereas the majority of the other tracks- despite various exciting moments- trudge along in a somewhat inconsistent malaise.
However, the exciting moments are-to be blunt- quite exciting. ‘Tom The Drum’ and ‘Rattlesnake Highway’ are hugely enjoyable thrashes that immediately remind the listener of how formidable a live act Palma Violets are; the frontmen belt out the vocals and pound their guitars, whilst the organist holds things together; remaining the ever serene foil to his bandmates’ chaotic tomfoolery. But despite many of these uplifting, excellent moments on 180, the majority of the record suffers from a directionless-ness which isn’t helped by Steve Mackey’s ramshackle production; although it makes the exciting bits exciting, it makes the poor bits sound very poor indeed.
Overall 180 is a a record that, although fun, is nothing to write home about. But then, there is no reason why it should have to be; first records by young bands are rarely the reach the heights of Up The Bracket or Is This It? as they are so often expected to be. The potential is all there- when Palma Violets have finished the record, release, tour cycle once we shall see whether they are able to unlock it.
Palma Violets – 180 released on 25th February 2013 by Rough Trade Records