A couple of years ago south London’s Palma Violets were being proclaimed as the latest indie guitar saviours and the true garage-punk heirs to The Clash and The Libertines. Their album 180 may not have fully captured the band’s raw live energy engagingly co-fronted by guitarist Sam Fryer and bassist Chilli Jesson, but it still possessed enough rollicking spirit to signal a promising debut. Follow-up Danger In The Club sounds slightly more self-assured but does not show any great development. Once again it is not so much individual songs that stand out as the ramshackle charm with which they are presented.
Produced by veteran John Leckie (The Stone Roses, Radiohead), Danger In The Club exudes an appealing spontaneity but frustratingly the songwriting still seems a bit haphazard, with the lyrics in particular remaining underwhelming. Despite its sinister title, the album is easy-going and youthfully exuberant, resembling an extended jam session in which everyone is having too much fun to take anything that seriously – there will be plenty of time to do that when they’re older; meanwhile carpe diem.
The upbeat, surf rock vibe of Hollywood (I Got It) with its frankly silly repeated refrain “Fresh fish! I got it!” and confident closing line “I can do anything” is all about the carefree optimism of youth. Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better on the Beach also conveys a swaggering self-assertiveness, though its sudden ending is disconcerting. The title track and lead single is an entertaining saloon-bar sing-along featuring organ and harmonica.
A darker tone pervades Coming Over to My Place with its cri de coeur “I would rather die than be in love”. In Secrets of America punky edginess turns into crooning content halfway through. The Jacket Song is a tongue-in-cheek sad ballad on acoustic guitar that seems to be dedicated to a jacket, “second hand and made in Japan”, but in Matador’s dark drama the singer bemoans “All I felt was pain”. The bass-driven Gout! Gang! Go! propels forward dynamically, whereas Walking Home ambles along casually with doo wop backing vocals.
Peter and the Gun lurches around with sudden tempo changes, while No Money Honey is glides through with dreamy keyboards. Second single English Tongue has a folky feel to it, as the singer warns “It’s gonna be a cruel cruel winter”, bringing the album to a stirring close. Still only in their early 20s, Palma Violets seem happy to go with the flow for the time being; perhaps next time around they will start to define the direction they want to pursue.