, February 27th, 2013 09:17
There's one microcosmic detail in Palma Violet's debut album that exemplifies the root of a lot of the fuss that's been made over them, for good or bad. It's the moment when established live favourite 'Tom The Drum' tumbles abruptly to a halt, a rattle of drumsticks turns into the band giving themselves a tiny round of applause, and you can clearly make out bassist/co-frontman Chilli Jesson's voice drawl "fucking brrrrrilliant..." before the song lurches back into joyous life.
The raw, gawky excitement Palma Violets get from just playing pops from person to person at their gigs like sexy static electricity. Without being particularly showy (apart from their adorably awful efforts to get the crowd to join with raising their 'spirit fingers' at every show) they generate thrill, demand to be watched as they stumble about into each other, sweaty and shouting and unselfconscious.
It's this excitement (which it should be noted, exists not only in magazines and lists but also in the minds and hearts of real, happy young people; I seen 'em with my own eyes) which has also drawn a fair amount of 'saviours of indie rock? Not likely on this evidence' sneers their way. I mean, imagine magazines whose role it's always been to get hysterical about new bands getting bug-eyedly worked up about a good band that a lot of young people are into! How stupid.
I find it weird, because Palma Violets sonically tick the sort of references that usually have snobbier critics dropping their guard; The Gun Club, early Bunnymen, the Bad Seeds (Jesson's late father was once the Bad Seeds' manager, and they're a favourite of the whole group). Yet as soon as they're handed the an NME front cover, I have people telling me they sound like Jamie T, The Libertines, The Clash and Coldplay. Er, what?
I also find it odd that the same accusations of stupidity and derivativeness kneejerked their way are rarely hurled at the equally hyped Savages, who despite being if anything more pastichey in sound, have the advantages of gender and humourlessness on their side. Derivative guitar music played by happy young men? Boo! Thickos, retrogressive, landfill etc. Same played by angry-faced young women? Brilliant. You people are so transparent, honestly.
Anyway, if you take the time to look past all that navel-gazing music journo shite, the point is, it's the audible potential energy that makes this, as with so many debuts of its kind (Remember, for starters, The Horrors' debut album?). It doesn't need work and time and fine tuning; it needs to be a lovable, dizzy, bedheaded romp. And it is. Pete Mayhew's unfussy organ adds a richness to their exuberant racket that would make 'Rattesnake Highway' gothy if it could be bothered to stand still for two seconds, clattering happily towards its screamed chorus. 'Chicken Dippers' (I mean, you know a band know the importance of not taking themselves too seriously when they call a song 'Chicken Dippers' rather than say 'I Read A Book About The War Once, It Was Well Dark', don't you? Not to mention 'Johnny Bagga' Donuts') has a Bad Seeds-ish crooned death-rattle verse with richly twanging guitar and a chorus like an ambush. 'Last Of The Summer Wine''s rich jangle and immensely singable chorus are irresistible, the silliness of Sam Fryer's forced-too-deep croon only adding to the charm. Best of all, 'Best Of Friends', months on from first ear-kiss, still sounds like the sweetest snapshot of young heartbreak (or, more to the point and more brilliantly, reluctantly breaking hearts), howling and thrashing it out.
It's not a perfect record, but then you wouldn't want it to be – the charm is the energy and room to grow here. They're not going to save anything, no, apart from you from the stick up your own arse if you let them. And they are, as they know, fucking brrrrrilliant.