Kein Song hat durchgehend die Energie von "Best of friends", auch wenn "Chicken dippers" mit seiner Tempovariation nahe ranrobbt. Es muss ja auch nicht immer gleich der nächste Überhit sein für Achselhöhenpogo in verdreckten Kaschemmen. Gut situierter Rotz im Glas tut es ja auch. Und so gibt es im Break zurecht Applaus für "Tom the drum" und auf dem "Rattlesnake Highway" ist Platz für scheppernde Becken und sanfte Backgroundgröhler. Ganz ohne Punk geht es im alternativen Garagenrock eben auch nicht. Fragt mal das surfpunkige "Johnny Bagga Donuts".
Mit "Step up for the cool cats" schlägt dann die Stunde von Pete Mayhew. Der Keyboarder der Band hat nach dem Opener gut zu tun und quetscht aus dem Gerät immer wieder Orgelklänge raus. Sein Spiel ist vermutlich der Grund dafür, warum Palma Violets trotz ihrer LoFi-Skizzierungen mit Psychedelic-Rock in Verbindung gebracht werden. Sei's drum. Es ändert nichts am immer wiederkehrenden Bild von "180": The Vaccines spielen bei The Clash Songs von The Libertines - und jemand bringt ein Keyboard mit. Best new Spaß für den Moment.
It would be lovely to report that 180 meets the expectations that have been heaped upon it. The charts could probably use an exciting new guitar band: it's not as if the current dominant forces – post-Guetta rave-pop and earnest acoustic whimsy – are the most bewitching developments in musical history, and there are impressive things about Palma Violets, not least the appealingly rackety sound they've settled on. Drowning in reverb, the trebly guitars, reedy 60s garage-rock organ and clattering drums seem to teeter perpetually on the verge of collapse, a sensation amplified by Pulp bassist Steve Mackey's production, which smothers each song in distortion of varying degrees of severity: from a light sprinkling of period fuzz on the 50s-influenced Three Stars, to Rattlesnake Highway, which sounds like it has been dipped in a corrosive substance.
The problem lies with the songs themselves. There are certainly moments when the writing sparks: the New Orderish riff of Chicken Dippers crashes into an addictive chorus; Step Up for the Cool Cats maroons a fragmented ballad over see-sawing organ and explosions of frenetic drumming. But they are outweighed by moments where things seems to gutter in a mass of half-formed ideas. It's a sense heightened by the Palma Violets' tendency to write episodic songs, packed with stops and starts and shifts in tempo and mood. Over its three minutes, I Found Love offers up a pop chorus, some anguished screaming, a sudden slump in pace, the riff from the Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane, and a heartbroken coda. There's nothing wrong with trying to break free of the standard verse-chorus song structure, but the problem here is that none of it gels together, leaving you with the distinct impression of a band throwing disparate ideas at the wall in the hope that some of them stick.
Throwing disparate ideas at the wall is something all artists do while they're still finding their feet. The sneaking suspicion that there's something a little undercooked about the music on 180 is ramped up further by the closing 14, which apparently originated with Fryer drunkenly singing it into Jesson's phone while on the bus hymned in the title, and which segues into the secret track New Song. It is, apparently, the first song they wrote – and it sounds like it. You do wonder that no one around the Palma Violets suggested they lay off making an album until they had come up with some songs a bit better than those.
Quite why they didn't is a nice question. It's not the Palma Violets' fault they've been pitched, half-formed, into a climate so desperate it has turned delusional, determined to insist they're something they patently aren't, at least not yet. The infuriating thing is that 180 isn't a bad album: there's something there, but it needs time to develop. Whether they'll get it is another matter entirely, which seems stupid. But as a quick glance at certain areas of the music press confirms, we live in stupid times.