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Palm - "Rock Island" | Album Review

by Jasmine Bourgeois

Palm sounds something like experimental noise meets rock pop meets dreamy electronic clamor. From their first release in 2015, they’ve been making sounds that are mesmerizing in their melodies and charming in their peculiar instrumentals. Formed in upstate NY in 2011, all are self-taught musicians. This is part of what makes their sound so intriguing: between the unique playing styles of Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt, the guitar riffs rarely mimic traditional rock guitar sounds and often feel more like they’re experimenting with the range of noises one instrument is capable of. The sounds from Gerasimos Livitsanos (bass) and Hugo Stanley (drums) are often front-and-center, playing with rhythm and time in a similarly non-conventional way. The four have developed a clear, intricate, and complex sound that’s evolved tremendously since their Trading Basics days.

Rock Island is Palm’s sophomore album. It maintains the impressive craftsmanship of their earlier work, but their sound is elevated. You’d think the band is twice as big as they are with the range of sounds they’re capable of projecting. With the use of MIDI controllers and other electronics, each track on the record has an unmistakable sound that’s not quite like any other indie rock you’ve heard before. “Milk” and “20664” are closer to electronic compositions than rock, while tracks like “Pearly” and “Composite” have a Caribbean-style steel drum sound and feel. The various working components pull your brain to both dissect every moving piece, yet the repetition almost lulls you into a trance. Throughout, the coordination between the four creates an almost meditative form of expression. The whole album is a labor of love, meticulously composed and crafted with a tangible attention to detail. Rock Island highlights the genuine artistry and compositional talent that exists between the the four.

Listening to Palm brings the same sort of comfort that comes from being in a crowded room with a thousand conversations at once: There are a million avenues to direct your attention, but there’s still a subtle joy in being able to let the chatter exist around you without clinging too heavily to piecing everything together. Palm has crafted a musical chatter all their own; one that’s informed by an authentic curiosity and an abstract logic. In all its crunchy, glitchy, jangly glory, Rock Island is a fun and lovably weird piece of work.