The Monochrome Set

Eligible Bachelors

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One of the classic albums of the early '80s by a band that doesn't get the love it should, the Monochrome Set's Eligible Bachelors from 1982 is a tour de force of wit and musical imagination. This was their first album for their new label, Cherry Red, and they certainly made the most of their opportunity. Songwriter and vocalist Bid turned in a set of witty, urbane, and hooky tunes that fulfilled the promise of the quartet's earlier recordings, guitarist Lester Square showed himself to be a master off catchy riffs and perfect fills, and the rhythm section of bassist Andy Warren and drummer Lexington Crane kept things light and swinging. Bustling through 11 songs so sharp and intelligent that it's easy to listen to the album multiple times without getting bored, the band and Bid are at the absolute top of their game, a game that others like Haircut 100 and Orange Juice were also playing. The Set and their ilk merged jangling guitars, jazz-influenced chord changes, painfully arch lyrics, deadpan vocals, and jumpy rhythms into something shiny and fun, quite often with a dark undercurrent. Eligible Bachelors is certainly the equal of Pelican West or Rip It Up; the surplus of songs that sounded like hit singles everyone forgot to buy ("Fun for All the Family," "I'll Scry Instead"), trenchant bits of social commentary set to a jittering dance beat ("The Jet Set Junta," "The Ruling Class"), and pretty pop tunes ("Cloud 10") see to that. Unlike those albums, it didn't catch fire with the general public, and left the Set pondering just what they had to do to break through. If creating their masterpiece couldn't get the job done, what was left for them to do? Luckily for fans of Bid and his band, they didn't give up, but even if they had, Eligible Bachelors would stand up as a definitive work of the post-punk/new wave era.

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