Decent debut LP by psychedelic art rockers The Monochrome Set, Peter Saville, moonlighting from Factory Records, sorts out the sleeve artwork. Text ripped from allmusic.com.
When the British art-school punk band the B-Sides changed their name and direction to become Adam & the Ants, guitarist/vocalist Bid and guitarist Lester Square opted out to form their own group, the Monochrome Set. Founded in London in 1978, the band (also comprised of ex-Gloria Mundi and Mean Street bassist Jeremy Harrington and former Art Attacks drummer J.D. Crowe) was quickly snapped up by the Rough Trade label, and during 1979 issued three singles — “He’s Frank,” “Eine Symphonie des Grauens,” and their signature number, “Monochrome Set” — all completely different in content and stylistic approach.
After former B-Sides bassist Andy Warren grew tired of life in Adam & the Ants, he rejoined bandmates Bid and Square, replacing Harrington. In 1980 the Monochrome Set released their debut album, the cabaret-flavored Strange Boutique, followed later that year by the singles “405 Lines” and “Apocalypso” as well as another, more accessible full-length effort, Love Zombies. Complete with new guitarist Foz, keyboardist Caroline Booth, and drummer Nick Wesolowski, they returned in 1982 with a cleaner, more melodic sound on the LP Eligible Bachelors; “The Jet Set Junta,” a satiric jab at the Falklands Islands conflict, became a significant hit the next year.
Reviews for ‘Strange Boutique’
NME (UK): “It’s like hearing serenades coming up from the sewers. The Monochrome Set are a dark blend of oppressive mystique and appealing conceit, offering elegant entertainment with troublesome undercurrents. Their stock-in-trade is old fashioned romance, subtly disrupted and re-presented with the sinister ritual of a subterranean cult.”
Sounds (UK) [album of the month]: “…for once, believe it or not, I actually wish a lyric sheet had been provided…[Lester’s] contributions are frequently dazzling…a very, very strong album which I’m sure I’ll be unravelling and enjoying for a long time to come. It’s a fine perversion.”