Album Reviews

The Monochrome Set

Cosmonaut

Artist:     The Monochrome Set

Album:     Cosmonaut

Label:     Tapete Records

Release Date:     09/09/2016

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None other than the great and powerful Morrissey was known to have championed the Monochrome Set back in their ’80s heyday. More modern acts such as Franz Ferdinand have also professed their adoration for the idiosyncratic melodic brilliance of this veteran post-punk outfit, with their clean, wiry guitar interplay, peculiar storytelling and delightfully off-kilter tunefulness.

Their latest collection of auditory curiosities, Cosmonaut, is a bright, engaging set of infectious songs abounding with fresh musical ideas colored with industrious swirls of keyboards and lead singer Bid’s suave vocal phrasing. Rich and vibrant, “Fele,”  with its tightly wound hooks, and a title track introduced by creepy Theremin are bubbly, buoyant pop exercises, while the delirious “Stick Your Hand Up If You’re Louche” is absolutely manic, bouncing off the walls with frenzied energy. “Tigress” and “Monkey Suitcase” are more elegant structures, with a flowing, timeless architecture resembling that of Elvis Costello in his more mature years, as “Put it on the Alter” offers up soulfulness that is unmistakably English and a brief shower of the kind of oscillating six-string magic Johnny Marr made famous.

Laced with humor, the word play is dense, enigmatic and evocative throughout, as it is in “Kingfisher Blue,”another piece of clever, tasteful songwriting on Cosmonaut that seems borne of a bygone age. Having started out in the late 1970s, the Monochrome Set isn’t resting on their laurels.

—Peter Lindblad

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