Release Date: Jan 14, 2014
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Neo-Psychedelia
Even after a lifetime submerged in travel ads, the only way to really discover new places is to actually bloody go there. More often than not, big travelling adventures lead to cliched ‘discoveries of self’, where post-school backpackers return tanned, cocky and often quite irritating. Louisiana’s Painted Palms experienced change through travel in a more upstanding way, by packing their bags and moving to California.
Painted Palms got the psychedelic experimentation out of its system—for the most part—on its Canopy EP. On the eagerly awaited debut full-length, Forever, the duo taps heavily into pop music, that of half a century ago. There is still a generous dose (no pun intended) of hallucinogenic textures on Forever, as well as beat exploration, but that's cushioned in a bubbly, breezy, synth-laden pop blanket.
Made up of cousins Reese Donahue and Chris Prodhomme, San Francisco duo Painted Palms began when the two were living thousands of miles away from each other and would exchange ideas for the band online. They pieced together an early EP this way, and even when that EP got them noticed and invited on various tours, the two ultimately ended up both living blocks away from each other in San Francisco but working on ideas in isolation in their time-honored fashion, trading files online to complete work on debut album Forever. The bedroom approach comes through loud and clear throughout the album, which never sounds cold but has a discernible tone of distance infused to its summery electro-pop beats.
It would seem that Painted Palms are so confident in Forever that they want you to hear it twice in one spin. At least, the level of echo on each individual sound on Forever seems to suggest so, creating a sort of double-image that runs parallel to the album itself throughout a rather busy production. Yet Painted Palms’ firm grasp on hooky songwriting and Pet Sounds-levels of vicarious whimsy makes for a rather interesting edifice of introspection for a debut LP, despite its cluttered arrangement.
It takes a brave (or supremely confident) band to release such a resolutely summery album as this in the depths of winter. Of course, how much say the band may have had in the release schedule is unknown, but giving this album a January release date may not have done them such a great favour. The lasting impression is one of a warm breeze on one’s face while the sun glints off the surface of a nearby swimming pool.
Forgive the jaded and somewhat fruitless social observation, but Forever, the debut album from Painted Palms, is the sort of record you'll hear in a student house before a night out or in your cool friend's car but never, ever bother to follow up on or think about again. It's exceedingly pleasant on the ears, meticulously produced to extract every glitter-soaked high from the duo's energetic brand of psych-pop but there's a fear that it won't be enough to push these 12 tracks to deserved commercial ground. Painted Palms are far from bad at what they do - they might just be too good at it, ploughing a distinct furrow from which they might never escape.
A lot more goes into release dates than "seasonal appropriateness," I realize, but Painted Palms' Forever sure doesn't feel like a January record. The long-gestating debut LP from the San Francisco psych-pop duo is a bright, spangling, decidedly summery affair, all radiant harmonies and warm reverberations. Forever's pleasures are simple, breezy, a little like bringing a parka to the pool: you're supposed to dive right in, not waste a lot of time peeling back the layers.
Composed of two cousins (Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme), Painted Palms are a band who have embraced technology to overcome the geographical challenges keeping them apart. With one in California and the other in Louisiana, they build their songs up piece by piece, sending them back and forth until a finished product emerges. Forever starts off strongly, with a trio of songs that lean heavily on the Animal Collective's template of sparkly, swirling synths and multilayered harmonies.
Painted Palms — Forever (Polyvinyl)You never believe it until it happens, but stick around long enough and bands that once seemed impossible to copy will attract a swarm of also-rans. Back in 2002, no one sounded like Liars (though Liars sounded, for a brief interval in “Tumbling Walls” exactly like ESG). A few years later, weaker tinctures from Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park and the Futureheads pounded those same jerky, abrasive sounds into oblivion.
As the means of production for making a record have transitioned from a band holing up in a bunker with some nutty producer to the average Joe creating multi-tracked recordings using a couple pieces of software on his MacBook, so too have the people making said records changed. Instead of the streetwalkin’ cheetahs, goo goo mucks, and other assorted weirdos and juvenile delinquents of yore, today’s musician is more likely to be an upstanding citizen with a respectable freelance gig on the side as a web designer or some such thing. It comes as no surprise then that much of what is reverberating across the virtual airwaves of today lacks any real sense of danger, dementia, or even, at the very least, titillation.