May 20, 2013 Web Exclusive
Such is the hype emanating from certain parts of the U.K. media around Palma Violets many critics and bloggers must be tempted to shoot them down at the earliest opportunity, to temper their potential egos before the band grows into a kind of musical Piers Morgan. To do so would be unfair, though: the Londoners' debut album 180 isn't so much a likeable record as an endearingly naïve one. To rip it apart would be akin to mocking an 18-year-old creative writing student's first assignment for not being Ulysses.
The band is a four-piece, with guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, and this is plainly evident on the album. Such à la mode vagaries as loops, beeps, beats, blips... even multi-track guitars are conspicuously dispensed with; you'd wager good money on none of these guys having much Radiohead in their record collections. In more cynical hands 180 would be a plodding, laddish pub rock bore worthy of scorn, but this is a band seemingly still giddy with excitement at hearing Arctic Monkeys for the first time, and so there's a sense of giddiness in the band (if not the listener).
Such a simplistic approach, perhaps unsurprisingly, leads to more misses than hits here. The majority of tracks, such as "We Found Love"—sample lyric "There are three stars/That are brightly shining/They are shining all so bright"—are so light as to simply be boring, and might have benefitted from a touch of self-important meddling. There are enjoyable moments, though: opening track "Best of Friends" is positively euphoric, misleading the listener into thinking they're about to hear a debut album of genuine note. Alas, this is not the case.
180 has been widely described as a record put together after reading Indie Rock Influences for Dummies, with sounds and riffs lifted shamelessly from the likes of The Smiths, The Clash, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, and The Stone Roses. In truth, though, there's too little self-awareness here, and instead it sounds like a potpourri of all the post-2000 Brit indie guitar bands who were influenced by London Calling, Meat is Murder, and The Velvet Underground and Nico: if anyone told you this was a record by Arctic Monkeys or The Libertines you wouldn't bat an eyelid. It's not the terrible record to be savaged that an army of hipsters hoped for, just a very plain one that sounds like it was made by 14-year-olds, for 14-year-olds. (http://www.palmaviolets.co.uk)
Author rating: 4.5/10
Average reader rating: 6/10