I suppose it's silly to say that The Monochrome Set are back since they've been putting out quality music for a few years recently. The postpunk legends -- 3 original members Bid, Lester Square, and Andy Warren, along with drummer Steve Brummel -- are still exploring the sideways of quality indiepop and crafting intricate and odd songs in an inimitable fashion. New album, Spaces Everywhere, out now on Tapete Records, is no exception.
A set of 10 spiky songs that go in unexpected directions, Spaces Everywhere is a spry reminder of the strengths of this band. There's the Duane Eddy-tinged "Iceman" opener and then the splendid "Fantasy Creatures" which charms like a Go-Betweens cut in some weird way. "Avenue" reveals itself as one of the band's best recent melodies while "Rain Check" adds a jazzy touch to the group's music. Bid croons how "...you've got to make your own luck in this world..." and a listener could be forgiven for thinking that he was speaking for himself 'cause, really, was there ever any other band this good that's been this unfairly overlooked by so many critics and listeners, especially on this side of the Atlantic?
"When I get to Hollywood" brings something optimistic to the proceedings while "The Scream" swirls and weaves a spell not entirely unlike an old Zombies song. Only with a banjo.
Spaces Everywhere closes on the sublime title track which is surely one of the catchiest things I've heard in ages. That melody is positively insinuating, really, and the cut itself is expertly produced near-chamber pop of a sort that predates even The Smiths.
The Monochrome Set can't but help and represent a better era in indiepop, when that term didn't even exist. Not punk and barely postpunk, the tune-age of The Monochrome Set is the sort of thing that -- thankfully -- continues to be hard to define. This is smart music that remains accessible. It's complicated stuff but, luckily, catchy rock too. Spaces Everywhere is a remarkably consistent album and that it's from a bunch of "legends" makes it all the more special. Listen to this in the context of the other Monochrome Set records or just listen to this on its own. Either way, Spaces Everywhere is a special bit of business indeed.
Spaces Everywhere by The Monochrome Set is out now on Tapete Records.