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Palma Violets: 180 (Album Review)

Palma Violets’ ascent was notable, they said, strange. ‘Best Of Friends’, the first recorded output and first single from the south Londoners came after they’d secured a notoriously riotous live reputation; after they’d got themselves a considerable and dedicated fan base. You know – in that way that used to seem completely bloody normal?

Have you ever found yourself running down a city street after dark, giggling while drinking the most dubious form of alcohol you could find in the closest corner shop? Felt you could take on the world; the glorious fuzzy half-way point between sobriety and otherwise, like time stood still? Been in a dark, damp club, music blaring when OH GOD, OH GOD THAT SONG I MUST DANCE NOW? ‘180’ is a bit like that.

It’s named after the band’s base in a Lambeth house. But, rather than coming across as the exclusive club house to which only a select few belong; it’s more like a drop-in centre. Palma Violets’ deliciously raggedy rock is enveloping. If scratchy guitars and lolloping drums could give hugs, these would be the sweatiest, messiest, yet most kind-hearted type. ‘Best Of Friends’ boasts of innocence, ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ a calling-card to sometime outsiders. Even the dreadfully-named ‘Chicken Dippers’ and ‘Johnny Bagga’ Donuts’ shimmer with howling exuberance.

But it’s not all short-sharp scruffy punk: closer ’14’ verges on the epic, though thankfully never leaving the record’s basement leanings behind, and proves the record’s greatest earworm. Then it’s left to true closer – secret track ‘Brand New Song’ – to leave a grin on even the most cold-hearted of listeners. “I’ve got a brand new song,” they tell us. “It’s gonna be a Number One.” The quartet’s puppy-dog eyes might not be pictured, but you’ve got to will them on.