Published May 04, 2013It's not what you wear it's the way that you wear it — at least when it comes to well-worn Brit guitar rock. South London foursome Palma Violets will never win any awards for originality. They freely crib from a whole slew of lad bands, but they do it with such gusto and commitment that it doesn't really matter.
Regardless, their debut record, 180, is more than just pastiche. It's a brisk collection of mostly frenetic cuts and, more importantly, an excuse to do what they do best: play live.
Cadence Weapon doesn't need a hype man and neither did Palma Violets. They had one anyway, with a pal announcing their impending arrival, making a decent Last Supper joke in the process. Kicking off with a sped-up "Johnny Bagga' Donuts," drummer Will Doyle set a rapid-fire, balls-out pace. Still, a Palma Violets gig is largely about singers Chilli Jesson and Sam Fryer. Throughout, the former pitted his caterwaul against the latter's laidback delivery. That dynamic has formed much of the outfit's narrative, garnering lazy Pete and Carl comparisons. Though, writ live, it is admittedly compelling.
"Rattlesnake Highway," did a good job of capitalizing on the interplay. A Ramones-inspired stomper, it elevated the pace even further. Ditto "All the Garden Birds," which started slow before ratcheting it up. Highlight "Chicken Dippers" built on its melodramatic rhythm, letting Fryer channel Ian Curtis and, for a split second, Iggy Pop, while leaving room for Jesson to get in a handful of cascading, echo-enhanced yelps.
Similarly, catchy-as-pink-eye single "Best of Friends" made the most of the two-singer approach, kicking off a mosh pit that was only trumped by a sloppy yet rousing cover of the Hot Nasties' "Invasion of the Tribbles." Fast, sweaty, and utterly satisfying, it was a balls-out set from a band that was built for Friday nights. Palma Violets may not reinvent the wheel but they spun the hell out of it.