Shadow Expert EP

Written by: MIN on 30/08/2017 09:21:08

Palm’s music isn’t for the impatient listener: the Philadelphia, PA-based indie-/math-rock band’s perplexing music is inaccessible due to its various time-signatures and odd rhythmic patterns, and although the band’s songs’ build-ups and eventual climaxes more often than not are worth the wait, the lack of keen, evident hooks might throw off the untrained ear. Soundwise caught somewhere between the arrhythmic post-punk of Preoccupations and a cut-down version of Slint, Palm’s newest EP “Shadow Expert” slings out two to three-minute tracks where the jagged guitars pierce fiercer than knives. Meanwhile, the impressive rhythm-section attaches itself to every note being played more persistently than ants in hot caramel. Hidden somewhere between the instruments lie the vocals courtesy of Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt, who take turns either delivering soft, somber lyrics about inner turmoil or shouting frustrations metronomically to the music. When listening to the EP, you wouldn’t have guessed that neither of them had any particular experience playing their instruments prior to the release of their debut LP “Trading Basics” in 2015.

Fourth song on the EP, “Walnut”, breaks the formula, though. Here, the guitars play a less abrasive riff while the drums and bass take front seat and set the pace. Almost like improvisation, the jazzy rhythm-section constantly toys and circles around the song’s core structure, thus creating one of the EP’s most entertaining moments. Following fifth song, “Trying”, is another highlight in which the guitars intensify midway through, just to restart and go back to normal after a few seconds. The band’s talented, synchronized playing is what keeps the release interesting throughout – most of the time, it feels like you could ask them to stop playing at any given time, and once they were to start again, they’d pick it up just where they left off without any trouble.

Although everything sounds good so far, it’s hard not to shake the feeling that that previously mentioned hook could have elevated the EP to the next level. Alpert and Kurt’s intertwining vocals on the album-opener “Walkie Talkie” is a fine example of this (something the rest of the record is sorely missing), but the choruses (if you can even call them that) in the title-track and “Two Toes” simply aren’t strong enough to carry the weight of the band’s inaccessibility. So, although there aren’t any bad songs on the EP – all of them are surprisingly well-played – a little more focus on pop-melodies now and then would have worked wonders for the overall impression of this extended play. Ultimately, however, Palm have created a solid piece of work that will make your inner mathematician dance off-key to the unpredictable polyrhythms that are glazing the entire thing.


Download: Walkie Talkie, Walnut, Trying
For The Fans Of: Slint, Preoccupations, Don Caballero
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.06.2017
Carpark Records

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