The long and storied career of The Monochrome Set, which first began in 1978 has been rejuvenated/reactivated several times, most recently in 2010 and have been releasing new music since – which leads us to the latest, Cosmonaut.  There’s never been an accurate description (or really, pigeon-holing) for their sound, although rather than label them, I’d look at them as artistic contemporaries of Wire, The Fall and so on).  Sometimes New Wave, sometimes neo-psychedelic, sometimes moody and abstract, The Monochrome Set have always simply defied terms.

This thirteenth album opens with an eerie theramin intro to the title track, with a very ’60’s soundtrack throttle and familiar Rickenbacker 12-string riff; “Suddenly, Last Autumn” has – again – a very ’60’s feel (think “Secret Agent Man”) with roller-rink organ punches, “Squirrel In A Hat” is very Stranglers-like – quasi-psychedelic with its organ and jazzy guitar and “Put It On The Altar” is a mix of pop and soulfulness, with female backing vocals and has “radio friendly” written all over it.  “Tigress” has a lazy, summery feel about it, exuding warmth and charm, including the very Saucerful Of Secrets/Rick Wright-styled organ break, “Stick Your Hand Up If You’re Louche” is a turn in style, being more a Tex-Mex/punchy and American-sounding piece with a very rockabilly riff  and”Kingfisher Blue” is another rockabilly-driver with crisp guitar fills.

Ten tracks that paint vivid and sometimes obtuse but completely intriguing word pictures; music that excites and captivates – the markings of a quality release.  What makes it even better to know is that it comes from a band who has been around more than long enough to forget how it’s done.  And rest assured, The Monochrome Set haven’t forgotten.

P.S.  In lieu of a brand-new video, here’s their (probably) most well-known track (at least, it was the one that introduced me to them), “He’s Frank”, circa 1979.


Cosmonaut will be released Friday, September 9th, 2016

About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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