British music mag the NME’s penchant for anointing sound-alike guitar bands likely elicits more eye rolls than album purchases these days, but Palma Violets are proof that they still have some clout. When the band’s garage-rock anthem “Best of Friends” was named the 2012 Song of the Year, the move seemed predestined—after all, this London-based gang of scrappy young upstarts, anchored by two complementary personalities (docile artist Sam Fryer and his vivacious sidekick, Chilli Jesson), fits the mag’s mandate to a tee.
Now, barely a year after they formed, Palma Violets have submitted to the insatiable urge to strike while the iron is hot, and they’ve delivered a debut that’s promising, if slightly undercooked. That the band opens with their signature tune doesn’t seem like the best strategic move, since the rest of the album fails to deliver anything as charmingly unhinged. Nevertheless, 180 has a few shining hints of the developed material Palma Violets might have produced with a little more time—the Doors-inflected organ jam “Step Up For the Cool Cats” and the effervescent shuffle of “We Found Love” among them.
The band’s gleeful immaturity is an asset on their star-making single, but it quickly becomes a liability when the hooks aren’t so addictive, and several throwaway filler tunes, like “Chicken Dippers” and “Tom the Drum,” mark a significant drop from the bar that “Best of Friends” set so sky-high. These must be desperate days down at the NME, where they’re stuck in a moment they can’t get out of—especially considering Palma Violets aren’t even as good as the mag’s last premature false idols, The Vaccines. But then, what did you expect?
Timeless classics: “Best of Friends”
Playlist picks: “Step Up For the Cool Cats,” “We Found Love”