Rough Trade Records
Danger in the Club
Since The Strokes kick started guitar music back in 2001, the fascination in hanging your hopes on an indie-rock band with a penchant for sounding like the past but somehow beamed back from the future has become a perquisite. London scallywags Palma Violets are part of that lineage, trailing behind the likes of The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines et al but the difference with The Violets is that sonically, they mine music’s past with very little regard for music’s future, harking back to the days of proto-punk on their second album ‘Danger in the Club’.
The quartet’s first album, ‘180’, was a ragged affair drawing comparisons to The Clash’s ramshackle punk sound but for the follow up to their debut, they’ve regressed beyond punk to pub-rock. Speaking with NME back in February, charismatic bass player Chilli Jesson stated “I definitely consider ourselves a pub-rock band”, The thought of a pub-rock outfit doesn’t sound all that promising and with ‘Danger in the Club’ it’s an album that feels reductive. It conjures up images of a grey 1970s Britain, years before the smoking ban, the sight of dead end towns of brown wallpapered pubs with pasty faced punters draining pint glasses full of murky ale, chomping on scotch eggs.
If you want an album to sink a few beers to and get rowdy with, this is right up your street and yes, it makes a rollicking racket but the whole aesthetic of fustiness won’t go away – akin to opening a closet for the first time in years and the tang of mothballs hitting the back of your throat.
At times ‘Danger in the Club’ is pretty nonsensical; ‘Hollywood (I Got It)’ is a riotous number for sure but why vocalist Sam Fryer repeats the lines “fresh fish” multiple times is kind of strange and for band steeped in Britishness, they’ve definitely not got ‘Hollywood’ in their bones – more like Cricklewood. The fixation of things stateside rear up on the gruff ‘Secrets of America’ where the quartet do their best slurred Clash impression, after a heavy boozy session. ‘Peter and the Gun’ is just plain annoying, the repetition of the title’s name wears thin very quickly and the observation of a dress that’s “quilted across the breast” on ‘The Jacket Song’ is a bit weird and creepy.
It’s an inevitable notion that the days of yore help form the music of the present, but at least attempt to refresh it for a new generation – in the case of Palma Violet’s latest album – freshness is an absent ingredient where ‘Danger in the Club’ is concerned.
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams