Painted Palms – Forever

forever

Rating: ★★★ · ·

When you’re given the personal stamp of approval from Kevin Barnes that becomes a pretty big deal, but it’s how one lives up to those expectations that really cements a group’s legacy.  Throughout the duration of Forever, you can hear what Barnes saw in Painted Palms; the record is brimming with melodies and hooks, making for a strong debut.

“Too High” opens up Forever, with this pulsating electronic beat before the playful vocals jump into the fold.  It’s a track that rests during the verses, then bursts forth exuberantly during the chorus.  It’s a pretty tried and true formula, and one that surely will find toes tapping and heads bobbing.  But, the record doesn’t jump too far off this beaten path for the first few tracks, though some of the pacing is alternated around the formula.  However, “Forever” definitely ups the ante from the moment you press play.  It’s got this weird vibe to it, relating to the realm between Of Montreal and early MGMT; you know you all love that.

For my ears, “Soft Hammer” is where I see Painted Palms excelling.  The track features one of the clearest vocal performances on the album, but it’s the structural building of the song that’s really compelling.  There’s more of a folk approach to begin the tune, yet it builds this increased tension for a time by piling an electronic instrumental wash atop it all, then reverting to where it all begin.  By controlling the melody throughout, and holding onto it until the end, I realized just how much of a grasp the duo has on perfecting harmonies; this is evidenced through the entirety of the effort.

While I felt like some of the songs suffered by the production, at least in regards to the sound of the vocals, there’s definitely more than a number of hits that are going to be pleasing for the ears. You can take some of the previously mentioned tracks or you could just jump in at “Spinning Signs,” which employs a pulsating bounce that drives the track home for the listener.  Or download “Empty Gun” and you’ll be rewarded again with gratuitous hooks and sugary melodies that have made the band such a staple in the Interwebs.

My experience with Forever ended up being varied.  There’s definitely a bunch of tracks I’ll be playing over and over again for some time, but there were also some disposable songs that might have molded my opinion of the album early on during my listening.  One thing’s for sure though, Painted Palms aren’t going anywhere, and this record is the perfect place to start making a name all on their own.

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