The Monochrome Set – Fantasy creatures (Tapete Records)

A band associated with Rough Trade and Cherry Red in their early years of the late 70s and early 80s and whose apocryphal presence in Morrissey’s record collection reportedly persuaded Johnny Marr to form a band with him.

That story alone gives an idea of the dandyish thread running through the band’s music and that particular element of their sound is strong on their new album Spaces everywhere. It’s a wonderful piece of work combining folk, soul and pop strands with an arch songwriting eye and a great characterful croon courtesy of Bid. The arrangements through the album include flutes and banjos but the enduring quality of the writing rises above any individual instrument choices.

Take ‘Fantasy creatures’. A twanging Strat, a busy restless observational lyric, then a Hammond organ and the vocal flowers out into a kind of pleading upper register, a brilliant switch – “don’t go away, come and stay forever”.

It connects in a line with ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ Ray Davies and ‘Common people’ Jarvis Cocker but with extra empathy and poignancy.

It tickles the heart and stirs the soul.

Track 6 in this playlist

Mar 10 2015 w/ Virginia Wing,Princess,Monochrome Set,Damon & Naomi,Dawn of Midi,Daniel Knox++ by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud





*For a bit less poignancy and a lot more sharp satire, check their s/t classic from 1980.

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