Stockholm Monsters, All At Once (Singles 1981-1987)

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The brighter side of Factory Records

A bit of brightness in the overcast early '80s Factory catalog, Manchester's Stockholm Monsters peppered their hurried pop songs with piping keyboards and pogoing bass, sounding almost like a forerunner to the New Zealand group the Chills. Their first single, "Fairy Tales," is three minutes of perfection, built around a simple, twinkling melodic phrase. Tony France's baleful baritone gives the song nuance and character; he leaps up for the notes like he's trying to pluck something off a too-high shelf. The Monsters were also among the first Factory bands to use keyboards for something more than mere shading. Synths bubble merrily across "Happy Ever After" and whistle like pan pipes in "Death Is Slowly Coming." And while the Monsters occasionally indulge in the occasional Curtis-ism (see "Partyline"), their refusal to bow to form makes them one of Factory's buried treasures.