Palma Violets – 180 (album) (Rough Trade)


In a little over six months Palma Violets have hooked the attention of indie fans everywhere. We all know the story of how indie music icon, founder and chairman of The Beggars GroupMartin Mills, signed the south-east London quartet to Rough Trade Records after seeing one of the band’s now infamous shows at their rehearsal studios in Lambeth (the album sleeve is made up of pictures from the dilapidated space and the album title is a reference to their studio room number). Quickly branded “the saviours of indie rock”, in May 2012 the band were selected as The Guardian ‘New Band Of The Day’ and NME named the band’s debut single “Best of Friends” as the Track of the Year.

Their debut single “Best of Friends / Last of The Summer Wine” surfaced online in August 2012 before the single was officially released in October (read our review of “Best of Friends” and “Last of the Summer Wine“). A well-crafted and catchy number aided by a raw and energetic production, “Best of Friends” showed all the makings of an indie anthem with vocalist/guitarist Sam Fryera shouting out his lungs like Joe Strummer incarnate. Where the A-side was rocky and garage-y, “Last of The Summer Wine” was characterized by sweet jangly guitar melodies and 50’s inflections before raising in volume and vitality. The song was also unique in that it was without a chorus in the traditional sense but all the while still catchy as hell.

Then in late January a second single ”Step Up For The Cool Cats” (read our review) arrived with the announcement of the band’s debut album ‘180’. And so here we are.

‘180’ is a raw and exhilarating mesh of influences ranging from The Walkmen, The Cribs and The Clash. The most obvious comparison however would be The Vaccines (think ‘Come of Age‘) with both bands combining punk-rock energy with 50’s inspired chord progressions melodies. The band’s simple set up of just drums, bass, guitars and Hammond B-3 organ conveys the songs with the no-frills, raw energy that they need.

Opening with the above mentioned first single, “Best of Friends” kicks thing off in fine fashion. The Vaccines-esque current single “Step Up For The Cool Cats” follows next and with this one-two-punch ‘180’ absolutely shines with youthful exuberance. The more restrained “All The Garden Birds” comes next initially sounding like “Last of the Summer Wine” with a similar sway and chord progression before steering off in a more refined direction.

Meanwhile, “Rattlesnake Highway”is an album highlight with all the energy and hooks that made “Best of Friends” so exhilarating. Sure to be live favourite, it summons The Clash with an irresistible anthem quality as does the brilliant “Johnny Bagga’ Donuts”.

On many of the tracks Palma Violets pay homage to their influences from The Kinks to The Ramones to The Who, some more subtler than others. For example, check out the riffs and overall feel of the brilliant “Tom The Drum”, which gives a nod to “My Generation”, or the call-back vocal melody during the first section of “Rattlesnake Highway” sung in the tune of “Blitzkrieg Bop”, or the opening section of “Step Up For The Cool Cats”, which sounds uncannily like The Monkees “I’m A Believer”.

The Walkman sounding “Chicken Dippers” leads to “Last of the Summer Wine”, which already feels like an old and loved classic. The lovely “Three Stars” shows a more mature side to the band while final track “14” is the perfect album closer and will have you singing at the top of your lungs long after it has finished.

Contagious and exuberant, Palma Violet’s debut is a solid, joyous and vibrant racket. It doesn’t break new ground, instead it’s a big nod to the greats of yesteryear. ‘180’ is the sound of unadulterated youth in all its glory.

‘180’ – the debut album from Palma Violets – is out on Monday 25 February, 2013 through Rough Trade. Pre-order the CD, LP or DPD via Rough Trade.

Watch the video for “Step Up For The Cool Cats” below: