NEW RELEASE: The Monochrome Set / Allhallowtide

by Tim Sendra [-]

The Monochrome Set's 2022 album Allhallowtide finds the long-running group right in the middle of a late-career hot streak. Starting with 2012's Platinum Coils, their first album made after singer/songwriter Bid's stroke, the group have released one fine album after another on a biannual schedule. Each record is filled with sophisticated chord changes, skillfully guitar twanging, lyrics with more bite than a kennel full of puppies, and at the center, Bid's archly honest vocals. There's not much variation from album to album, but there doesn't really need to be when the operation is humming along at top speed like this. There are more backing vocals and a few more leisurely, jazz-based ballads here, but it's mostly interchangeable with the records that have come before. In a good way. That being said, there are a few tracks here that are contenders for what would be a brilliant best-of collection that someone should really be working on. The insistent ballad "Box of Sorrows," which rollicks like a cross between Dylan and Cave in the verses, then blossoms into a shimmering star of a chorus; the title track, which rolls along gloomily like a sad pirate tune as Bid croons majestically from the crow's nest; the rambunctious "Really in the Wrong Town" -- these are all strong contenders. "Resplendent in a Darkness" might be the winner; it features a lighter-than-air melody, a beautiful bass line, and some of Bid's most openhearted lyrics. He's never been much of a singer of simple love songs, and on this album it's no different. There are twist and turns to be navigated, mysteries to uncover along the way -- which may be a little bit of rough sledding for those who like things plopped right on their laps. For those brave souls who enjoy a little bit of thinking as the melodies caress and cajole, Allhallowtide is another fine example of how Bid and his band are experts at the form. They have been doing this for a long time, and for the past decade there are few bands who have been doing it as well.

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