Review Summary: history in the making?
Within the first 10 seconds of listening to Shadow Expert
you’re able to sense that Palm’s sound is going to be an anomaly, at least for another few years. Sure you can lump the band under a multitude of genres; math rock for the strange time signature changes, noise rock for the dissonant and sometimes abrasive guitar licks, and even "experimental" for all the risks they take throughout the EP. However, you can also make a strong argument against each of these genres as the bright, twinkly riffs are nowhere to be seen, the distorted guitar tones are rarely used, and despite the risks, experimental is really just a cop-out genre description. When compared to their debut LP, Trading Basics
, the production appears a bit cleaner and the vocal effects are a bit more subdued, but that doesn’t take away from how weird
this band sounds. Maybe I’m exaggerating, yet every time I put Palm on I think to myself, “is this what it’s like to watch the birth of a new genre?”.
As for the individual songs, all six seem to bury themselves comfortably within a niche of their own sound. Yet, unlike their previous effort, the album doesn’t ever feel like a Pollock; a splatter of new ideas thrown beautifully onto a canvas, chaotic and gnarled. The band even said in an interview that this was their attempt at a cohesive piece, and it really shows throughout all of the tracks. ‘Walnut’ proves to be the centerpiece for a reason as its angular, quirky guitar melody drives the song into many off-kilter climaxes while lead singer Kasra Kurt croons nonchalantly over the unpredictable mess. Opener ‘Walkie Talkie’ is the most direct callback to their earlier work with its stop-start rhythm section and duel male/female vocals who both directly reference the title of their previous album. Lastly, closer ‘Sign to Signal’ is an exploration into noise pop as both guitars devolve into abrasive yet bubbly riffs, seemingly paying no attention to the beat yet still finding a way to keep in time. If there’s any obvious strength that Palm displays, it’s that the four-piece is able to thrive within the nonsensical. Figuring this EP out is a tiring task, yet a rewarding one because once you do you’ll realize they have something
special no other band has right now.