Super Plastic City the brand new LP from The Monochrome Set is co-produced by BID and Jon Clayton at One Cat Studios and is published via Cherry Red Songs and sees BID in a post serious illness and recovering nicely, BID penning yet another insightful collection of tonal gems that sit wonderfully together in a moving, wry, witty, intelligent set of stylish songs like a mini novel. Themes of alienation, illness, recovery, longing, confusion, lost hidden love, the search for peace and quiet, green pastures the great outdoors and the increasing claustrophobic shallow and suffocating plastic-city-scapes full of breaking news, mono thinking media, and chaos serve to blend into a snapshot that has the modern times perfectly measured according to The Monochrome Set. Back up Organs by Jon Claydon add tactile textures with Patrick Dawes keeping our toes tapping, hips hipstering and shoulders shrugging with persuasive Percussion tops off the toppings nicely.
‘Super Plastic City’ kicks off proceedings with an instantly familiar, classic TMS feel, with a nice chanted set up signature tune with a vibrant bright and catchy guitar hook-set by Lester Square sounder cleaner and sharper than ever, that leans gently against BIDs warm reedy tones that seem to have effortlessly embedded sincere eccentricity and good manners. Mood shifts are fast and subtle and are underpinned by the magical Andy Warren (Bass) and Steve Brummell (Drums) crisp skin-work driving, rolling, framing and restraining at just the right moments. It all feels much less laboured and more organic. With couplets like ‘cracking the words like whips, listen to the past coming-out of my lips,’ BID continues to move with the times yet fondly references the passing of time.
‘The Time I’ve Spent Doing Nothing’ bemoans lost opportunities and has a Monkees style feel, that jauntily deals with frittering of time, half forgotten daydreams and missed love. The band interplay is simply awe inspiring with a clear, clean yet finely balanced production of sounds that blend seamlessly.
‘If I Could Be Woebegone’ keeps the springy pace as is as uplifting a song as I have heard for years, but in a really moving way, a desire for inner peace and a cast iron will seem to decorate this tale of potential gloom and doom that instead simply gets defeated. Such a positive ditty! This will wet your eyes and make you grin at the same time like a great British Black and White Comedy from the 40s. This one even had my 2 young sons dancing around the room like March Hares!
‘Lefty’ deals with recovery, conflicts of strange inner voices and staring at ceilings until familiar pastures win over in the end. Floating, fleeting, glimpses of un-certainty all conflict and weave this tale together.
‘I Dream Of Spring’ slowly builds with scenes, sounds and sensations of re-discovery of the everyday, things that are often taken for granted have gained a new premium in BID’s springtime. Lovely combined melodies with the band stretching time and place.
‘Strange Young Alien’ seems to recall teenage type torment via ‘Cherry Soda Wonderlands’ and religious figures that hide in shadows with driving dreams of guitars and stardom that beckons yet seems to be submerged under deep blue waters, from colliding other worlds. The longest ditty on this collection it twists, stutters, trawls and twangs, it’s the longest song here but earns it’s place.
‘Handed-Down Memory’ recalls lost personal data of the most intimate kind, emotive, poetic and lush guitar work, re-learning from faded hues.
‘Isn’t It A Wonderful Life’ a rhythmically rolling would be sunshine-popper that mixes moods beautifully recalling hints of The Free Design, The Association, Scott Walker yet remains wonderfully Monochrome.
‘Dark Red Rose’ instills golden harmonies and expertly picked out notes from the get-go building to references of hidden love and dark secrets in a space-age-jazz setting. Stylish and deep.
‘Turn It Off ’ deals deftly with rolling non-stop media images, breaking news about breaking news, a claustrophobic tugging of the heart-strings and consciousness into all directions until the far away troubles deliver constant fatigue and the need to escape to the great outdoors, greener pastures, and much gentler more simple times. Once again the entire ensemble selflessly serve the needs of the songs. Something that newer bands should study in depth.
‘Rotten Ralph’s Custard Carnival’ has a slight proud Byrds’ 60’s influence, but is a jolly, jaunty refrain about growing old disgracefully, BID smirks ‘Oh you were like Jesus, now you look like Ghandi!’ Lester provides fetching fretwork, Andy walks his baselines in and out of Steve’s solid tempo and rounds off the LP of the year by a mile! We give this most recent TMS offering toppermost marks and doff our black berets.
Super Plastic City is released on November 5th and is available here.