Saturday, October 15, 2022

Albums of the Year # 71 The Monochrome Set - Allhallow Tide


Monochrome Set and particularly lead singer Bid's vision remains a singular one decades after their initial conception. On latest album,  Allhallow Tide they continue to stir the Sixties inspired brew they've been trading on since the late Seventies. 

Never ones to follow the prevailing trends, they weren't really Punks when they first emerged, at a time when it was almost a prescribed obligation to be a Punk. Instead, they've followed their own wonky, winding road and devotees of what they do will not be disappointed with what's on show here. Nor it need be said are they likely to convert any previous cynics.

In many ways Bid's true contemporaries are Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge. All three have specifically English visions inspired most obviously by their Sixties childhood and the Golden Age of British Psychedelia circa 1965-68. 

Bid's songs always make me think of Cult TV programmes from the period like The Prisoner, Magic Roundabout and Thunderbirds and impossible, surrealist artwork by the likes of Magritte and Escher. His songs are labaryinthine creations that are always self-indulgent but highly enjoyable at one and the same time.

I've always enjoyed Monochrome Set records without being entirely inclined to listen to all of them. They're responsible for one of the finest singles of the Post Punk era, (though it might not be entirely correct to label the band themselves that), in Eine Symphonie Des Grauens and one of its strongest debut albums in Strange Boutique. But there's only so much time you can spend playing with the records of your childhood, which generally seems to be their thing. Always in Wonderland. So they're an occasional pleasure for me but one that I enjoy whenever I indulge it.

Nevertheless Allhallow Tide is another fine addition to their catalogue. I thoroughly enjoyed the half hour I spent in its company and will spin it again. They're something of a British Independent institution. It's good to have them still among us.

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