March Violets

Electric Shades

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The March Violets recorded Electric Shades in the midst of major personnel changes: singer Rosie Garland had already been replaced by Cleo Murray, and co-vocalist Simon Denbigh was handed his walking papers midway through. These did not appear to be auspicious circumstances in which to make a record, especially since the change from Garland to the prettier-voiced (and glamorous-looking) Murray looked like a blatantly commercial move. For whatever reason, though, Electric Shades turned out tremendously well. Picking up where Natural History left off -- by reprising that record's highlight, the driving, rhythmically complex "Snake Dance" -- Electric Shades boasts a vastly expanded sonic palette, with more emphasis on melody and a heavy dose of psychedelia. This helps the Violets to develop a distinct personality, something they couldn't manage on Natural History. Electric Shades is far from flawless; the B-side consists of the unremarkable and overlong single "Deep" and a three-part suite that could easily have been a third as long. But with the album's highlights -- "Slow Drip Lizard," "Walk Into the Sun," and "Electric Shades Part I" -- the Violets at least left behind some top-notch material to mark their brief career.