Palma Violets sprung forth onto the scene back in the heady days of 2013, offering a self-destructive, lager strewn approach that seemed radical at the time, but in retrospect was essentially filling the void that The Libertines left after their split.
With Pete Doherty and Co recording new material, it’s make or break for the young pretenders as they aim to forge an identity for themselves away from their imitation indie roots. Can Danger In The Club hit the sweet spot or leave a horrible processed taste in the mouth like it’s namesake confectionery product?
From opener ‘Hollywood ( I Got It)’ (we’re not counting knees up snippet ‘Sweet Violets’..ever) it’s apparent that nothing much has really changed. Yes, the scene has changed, with the band picking up a pinch of stateside influence (you know, like the Arctic Monkeys did) and a bit more production polish (just like 90% of bands who reach 2nd album status).
The guitars still surf in a ramshackle punk rhythm while gang vocals sing in a put on disorientated manner. It’s music for the lager swiller, made by people who are probably too focused on record sales to truly be as pissed as they pretend. That is to say, it feels forced and lacking any real spirit. Even at the low ebbs of The Libertines there was always a chemistry and bond that ran through everything they did on record…not so here.
What made them endearing to some degree in 2013 was an uncanny ability to weave a sing-a-long melody into proceedings (see the undeniably catchy ‘Best Of Friends’). As the album careers onto lead single ‘Danger In The Club’, it’s apparent that this isn’t likely to be the case here. It just staggers on in a way that is relatively tuneless at worst and mediocre at best.
‘Coming Over To My Place’ is lyrically and to some extent musically promising but why, oh why! must Sam Fryer sing in such an infuriating part punk, part pissed, part cockney hybrid. It’s not endearing, it’s not anything but someone who caught a few drunken Libertines performances and decided to replicate Pete at his most sloshed. Shane MacGowan has sounded more tuneful after an all night bender, and that’s saying something!
‘The Jacket Song’ is that classic acoustic come down from the madness that every indie artist bungs onto the album in a falsified attempt to seem tender/subtle/artistic/*insert suitable allusion here*. In reality it’s a passable track, ruined again by a fakeness fuelled by a sickening desire to fit into a scene that has moved on long ago. You can almost, if you blink, catch vision of Chilli Jesson diving off an amp onto the great ship Arcadia as it departs the indie docks for the near future.
‘Matador’ is probably the best direction the band could go in, atmospheric and lacking pretension. Brooding but not full of the complex wankery that other artists would employ over these sort of tracks. But it’s only a snappy highlight in a sea of pretentiousness. Owing as much to 80’s pop and Interpol as it does 2004, it marks a good point for a potential 3rd album.
‘Gout! Gang! Go!’ is 50% The Clash and 50% The Strokes. It’d be hard to criticise it, it’s a fun slice of punk spirit. A real likeable track with some actual spirit and a sense of fun, but lacks any substance or real hint of a proper tune. It’s music for revivalists to lose it to in Indie discos. And while that’s ace, it’s been proven time and time again that you can’t really base a career around that kind of schtick.
The rest of the album is the same formula repeated over, which is obviously great if that’s your kind of music, but there’s a real feeling this could be a solid tanker of an album.
It’s annoying when you have to be so critical of a band this early in their careers, but the reality of the situation is that it’s a step back rather than forward. Granted, like it or not, they hit upon an untapped desire for ramshackle indie anthems a while back but this writer would hasten a bet that the majority of those folk have upped tools and moved on. It’s not really Palma Violets fault for failing to realise this. It’s their fault however for taking the shambolic element and gang mentality and forcing it onto another album without any sense of conviction or spirit. No person other than the group can say for sure but it almost feels that even the band are clinging onto a fleeting glory in the bizarre hope that the spark will reignite.
It’s a poor album at the end of the day. Lacking any genuine feeling, any true personality or originality. And that’s what narks us the most!