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Album Review

Like Steely Dan, the Monochrome Set's later albums are more extreme than their earlier ones, in that the music gets progressively smoother and more genteel as the lyrical concerns grow odder and more abstruse. For example, "Pauper," the first single from 1995's Misere, finds singer/songwriter Bid singing about the joys of being utterly broke while cadging 150 pounds "for a really expensive album" from an unsuspecting mark in the chorus, all to a folky pop tune that sounds like Dave Matthews covering Prefab Sprout. Elsewhere, "Leather Jacket" is the best love song to that garment since the Chills' mid-'80s ode to sartorial splendor, "I Love My Leather Jacket," and the opening "Milk and Honey" ruminates darkly on death while quoting Leadbelly's "Midnight Special." Meanwhile, the melodies are mellow and the production is slick, sounding more like late-period Roxy Music than the antic XTC-like sound of the Monochrome Set's earlier albums. Misere isn't a bad record at all, but the surface slickness takes some work to get past to find the meat in the songs themselves.


Formed: 1978

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '10s

When the British art school punk band the B-Sides changed their name and direction to become Adam & the Ants, guitarist/vocalist Bid and guitarist Lester Square opted out to form their own group, the Monochrome Set. Founded in London in 1978, the band (also comprising ex-Gloria Mundi and Mean Street bassist Jeremy Harrington and former Art Attacks drummer J.D. Crowe) was quickly snapped up by the Rough Trade label, and during 1979 issued three singles —...
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Misére, The Monochrome Set
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