Palma Violets are victims of hype
Ah great, another hype band from good ol’ Blighty. Palma Violets are the latest NME darlings which, these days, is something of a poisoned chalice. Anyone lifted shoulder-high by the magazine is immediately assumed by most to be nothing more than the latest disposable fad: Snapchat faces for an invented ‘scene’ created by hacks to sell copies of what was a once-great institution, yet is now just Smash Hits with guitars and fringes.
Anyway, to the music. 180 is the four-piece’s debut LP and certainly has something about it (incidentally, 180 is the number of the house/studio in Lambeth where they regularly threw parties and impromptu gigs for friends and fans). The vocals are gothy, the instrumentation is woozy psychedelic 60s garage rock, the production scuzzy. Boxes ticked. At its best, the record has the urgent fuzziness of Royal Headache with organs, the energetic singalongability of The Vaccines and the dark undertones of The Horrors. Sounds frickin’ good, right? Right. But the problem is that these raw and exciting moments number too few, and the bulk of the record is therefore pedestrian in comparison. While it’s no crime not to be able to produce bangers as easily as the likes of The Libertines, The Cribs et al, the simple truth is that there isn’t enough about 180 that sticks in the memory.
If we’d have been allowed to approach 180 without all the hype and in a different mindset, we’d have found a decent enough, session-esque (not many overdubs going on here), atmospheric first record. The fact that some of us were hoping to be blown away is hardly Palma Violets’ fault. Indeed, until a couple of months ago, they had no online presence, no music recorded and no press team working for them – they only cared about playing shows. So any disappointment we might feel can be blamed on the hype merchants. But still, this is far more ordinary than extraordinary.
Review by Bobby Townsend