posted on May 25, 2011 20:52
Review Snapshot: Despite occasional glimpses of promise, the debut album from British band Wild Palms loses its way somewhere between ambition and execution.
The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10
Full Review: There is a lot to like about Wild Palms brand of music. Whilst drawing on an array of influences and blending genres as traditionally opposed as pop rock and shoe gaze, the group still manage to arrive at their own unique sound, a characteristic sorely lacking in many of their contemporaries. As well as having an imitable voice in lead singer Lou Hill, the album is also littered with catchy hooks and clever musical experimentation. So why then, having given the record fair chance, did I find myself so unmoved by the experience and even a little frustrated?
Well for one thing the group don’t appear to have settled on a direction. There is an imbalance between simple, radio-friendly pop tunes and long, drawn out tracks that fluctuate in intensity only to arrive at an anti-climatic and unfulfilling conclusion. The final track on the album ‘Not Wing Clippers’, for example, is a fourteen minute epic (epic in length only) that begins as a fairly customary pop song, only to plunge into four minutes of unfathomable silence (this is fashionable amongst certain groups these days, personally I blame Sigur Ros) before it finally picks up again into a bit of good old fashioned post rock. This track alone demonstrates everything that is good and bad in Wild Palm’s music.
The lead single from Until Spring, ‘Delight in Temptation’, is another Jekyll and Hyde type of song that develops nicely with a basic guitar hook and slight lyrics from the front man before surrendering to a terribly predictable, and consequently uninteresting, chorus. With this song, as with the entire album the promise of Wild Palms is belied by their brash execution.
‘Caretaker’ is one of the few songs on this record that works from beginning to end. And it works because it doesn’t try to be epic or sweeping. It is a quiet little track where Hill’s voice soars above the music, rather than competing with it as happens throughout much of the album.
The overall tone of the album is a little too melancholic, which would be fine if the melancholy being put forward seemed genuine. But it doesn’t and the whole thing just ends up sounding forced, uninspired and confused. That said, however, they are a talented group who will perhaps come back to wow us with a much improved second album. We shall see.