Following the second instalment in their compilation album series ‘Volume, Contrast, Brilliance:…Unreleased and Rare: Volume 2’ earlier this year, The Monochrome Set release their 13th studio album, the second on German record label Tapete after last year’s ‘Spaces Everywhere’.

Opening on single-to-be, ‘Cosmonaut’, the music video of which was filmed at London’s The 100 Club when the band played there in March, there’s an immediate feel that true Monochrome Set ideals have been preserved and developed. The theremin waves, jangle-pop and chuckling, winddown riffs with the addition of female backing vocals (present throughout the record) give the track a warm, timeless glow with the resourceful utilisation of the world famous venue as a backdrop affirming the band’s London roots.

However, on listening to the next track, ‘Suddenly, Last Autumn’, a humouring song about human cannabilism, there’s a flavour of a country genre that features through at least half of the album, with the track-by-track layering of electric and acoustic guitar and no hint of the psychedelic traditions apart from the organ compositions in songs like ‘Squirrel In A Hat’, the end of which returns to a snippet of the lyrical content of the title track. The cool, easy rhythm jazz guitar, such as in ‘Put It On The Altar’, makes this record particularly infectious on the brain.

‘Tigress’ marks a turning point in the album: as the song subject expires on her last breath so launches the upbeat country bashings of ‘Put Your Hand Up If You’re Louche’, emerging from the ashes of the Phoenix. ‘Fêlé’, French for ‘cracked’, debates mental illness with the heavy organ instrumentation taking the twang out of the toing and froing country theme.

‘Kingfisher Blue’ brings back the western blues, reaching its height in the comedic lyrical expanse of ‘Monkey Suitcase’. The blues interlude of final track ‘Lost In My Own Room, Dreaming’ ends with a flashback to ‘Cosmonaut’, rewinding to the centrepoint of the record. An exciting journey into The Monochrome Set’s unique lyrical stream of unconciousness, uncut and free flowing, and their adventurous instrumental perfection.

‘Cosmonaut’ is available now on CD, vinyl and digitally.

© Ayisha Khan.