The Only Ones: S/T (1978)

The Only Ones' 1978 self-titled debut, which didn't get a lot of attention at the time (at least here in the States) but which has grown in stature over the decades, is a tough one to pigeonhole. A little British new wave power pop; a little Television-styled New York punk; a lot of love for Lou Reed. Which can make it a sometimes schizophrenic stumble between darkness and light, but it's definitely one of those records that grows on you the more you listen.

If they have any pop culture cachet, it's from the delightfully skewed power pop single "Another Girl, Another Planet," which became a mainstay of the Replacements' live set and started to permeate the mainstream consciousness decades after its release. Indisputably one of the finest songs of the era, absolutely killer, what more do you need?  A few other tunes on the album are similarly infectious, like the chaotic post-pub-rock "City of Fun" and the Buzzcocks-like pop-punk "Language Problem," not to mention the rollicking "The Immortal Story," which sounds like a blueprint for the first Libertines album (a favor repaid by the Libertines, who also covered "Another Girl").

But there are also plenty of more relaxed mid-tempo tracks, the sort of thing that seem perfectly radio-friendly but for Peter Perrett's more stand-offish vocals, which fall somewhere between Reed and Television's Tom Verlaine and the Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano. "Breaking Down," for example, conjures the jazzy side of the Zombies circa "Time of the Season," a lush bit of introspection that provides slick musical cover for the dark lyrics. Elsewhere there's a more stripped down darkness, like opener "The Whole of the Law'"s Verlaine-like balladry (a song that Yo La Tengo would later strip down even further on 1993's Painful).

The band had a couple follow-up albums, both decent enough, and Perrett has had a number of surprisingly solid solo albums in recent years.

Here's the video for "Another Girl":
Here's an audio rip of "Language Problem":
Here's a live take on "No Peace for the Wicked":