The Monochrome Set - 1979-1985: Complete Recordings album review

Non-stop colourful pop excellence

Cover art for The Monochrome Set - 1979-1985: Complete Recordings album

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

For a while in the late70s The Monochrome Set were fingered as an arch post-punk enigma, belonging to a tradition that includes Wire, The Smiths, Blur, Microdisney and The Divine Comedy, though they weren’t really in thrall to any trend. This glorious box set gathers their first four albums plus a generous array of singles and reinforces the view: how the hell did they miss the boat? The opening Strange Boutique sets the scene, mingling fantasy scenarios with music for imaginary soundtracks like a cut-price Eno on the title track or an English Talking Heads on Love Goes Down The Drain. Their second 1980 release, Love Zombies, is a richer neopsychedelic affair that bubbles with instrumental invention, showcasing lead singer Bid’s cool lyrics and lead guitarist Lester Square’s ability to reference Jet Harris or Arthur Lee with the flick of a plectrum. Eligible Bachelors is their masterpiece thanks to the surf epics On The 13th Day and The Midas Touch. The big budget The Lost Weekend (1985) was a push for stardom but its dreamy eccentricity never clicked. Too bad, because the Set’s social send-ups and droll rock modernism were way ahead of the game. Turn on and tune in.

Max Bell

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.