Monday, January 6, 2020

The Monochrome Set, Fabula Mendax, 2019

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

The Monochrome Set, known for being purveyors of fine pop since 1979, has been doing a bit of time traveling lately.

On the band's 2018 Maisieworld, they created a concept album about the not-too-distant future in which parts of the young are used to upgrade the old.

The new album, Fabula Mendax, is based on manuscripts written in the 15th Century by Armande de Pange, a companion of Joan of Arc. The songs follow Armande as she becomes a part of Joan's expanding group of followers and travels into the war zone of Northern France.

The journey of Joan's army through all kinds of weather is reflected in two songs. "Summer Of The Demon" is a galloping country-western number that could have been a Johnny Cash standard. With female backing vocals singing "Glory to the sun," it sums up the feeling when the rain stops and the sun comes out.

"Sliding Icicle" has lyrics about socks becoming threadbare as the march goes on and chattering teeth as the weather gets colder. It's also a rocker with some great slide guitar work.

And the opposing forces that Joan is facing are heard from in the dark, menacing "Eux Tous," a wish for enemy troops not only to be defeated but also to be drowned or hanged.

"Rest, Unquiet Spirit," the opening track, may be addressing the spirit of Joan herself with its feel of a church service and lyrics in Latin. The closer, "La Chanson De Pucelle," is a gorgeous, string-laden ode to Joan, the Maid of Orleans. With lyrics about visions and lying in pastures, it's easy to imagine that the song is about her final moments at the stake.

Fabula Mendax is out now on Tapete Records.

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