Review Summary: A quintessential mall soundtrack.
After listening to Forever
, there shouldn’t be a single grain of doubt as to where cousins Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme drew inspiration from for their full-length debut as Painted Palms
. Shades and hues of both The Beach Boys
and Animal Collective
bounce off of Forever
’s canvas with minimal attempt at subtlety. With the name dropping of two rather lauded bands, the question of whether or not Painted Palms
executes these influences well is a prominent one, which is unfortunate for any band trying to introduce their (hopefully unique) sound. The answer, however, doesn’t particularly lean one way or the other, for Forever
is a collection of twelve largely inoffensive pop tracks.
That description means exactly what it states: a group of songs that are neither exceptionally good nor bad. Instead, they seem content being generally plain, with vocal and instrumental melodies that are both pretty and pretty bland. Tracks like “Here It Comes,” “Soft Hammer,” “Not Really There” and “Sleepwalking” blatantly reference the band’s aforementioned big name influences, and the stylistic borrowing goes over with a fairly decent return. Yet, there are songs like the title-track that that feel like a watered down version of something The Bravery
might write, which isn’t a particularly positive comparison to begin with. “Spinning Sings” may be even shoddier, with undertones of the worst examples of 80s synth pop.
It’s truly difficult to find songs on the album where the only name that comes to mind is Painted Palms
. The closing track, “Angels,” is by far the strongest and most distinct track. It’s a delightful acoustic ballad with pleasant vocals that has more uniqueness than any of the other eleven. Perhaps “Hope That You See It Now” could have been another one of these tracks, but the shoegazey haze lasts but twenty-nine seconds and doesn’t even act as a very good interlude for the album. Then again, maybe it’s better that they didn’t flesh the song out and attract new comparisons to My Bloody Valentine
This is really the central problem with Forever
: it lacks a distinct voice. Nearly every moment on the album feels like a passable nod at ideas already crafted, and the result is an album that really doesn’t make a huge impression in either a positive or negative direction. Fans of this brand of pop won’t complain if the album happens to be playing, but they probably won’t go out of their way to put it on either.