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Album Review

When the Monochrome Set came on the scene in the late '70s, they didn't quite sound like anybody else in the new wave and punk scenes. Overflowing with classic pop hooks, they were too witty, sophisticated, and upper-crust for the punk scene, but too eccentric and freethinking for mass appeal. When the band re-formed in 1990, they may not have sounded as innovative or as fresh as they once did, but they were still writing strong songs and performing them with gusto and verve. Charade is far from a perfect album, but it shows off the band's strengths on an individual track basis, and a couple of tunes here rank among the best they've ever recorded. The tender but twisted "Little Noises" is a good blueprint of the band's pre-hippie 1960s rock sound and unique lyrical vision, while "Christine" can proudly stand up to comparisons with Village Green Preservation Society-era Kinks. The song may just be the most good-natured number in the Monochrome Set's entire catalog and shows that the band still has new musical and emotional avenues to explore.


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 -- "He's Frank," "Eine Symphonie des Grauens,"...
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