by Morgan Greenwood (@totemmotet)
Beige Palace describe themselves as a “minimalist rock trio from Leeds.” While the description is apt, if itself minimal, the better way to get to the heart of the music is by their listed influences: “Clickhole, Coneheads, Cherry Pepsi Max.” Read that again. “Clickhole, Coneheads, Cherry Pepsi Max.” Yep, that’s right. Despite—or maybe because—the fact this declaration of influences was meant to be tongue-in-cheek is what makes it a more accurate description than anybody with a keyboard typing a review could hope to do. Their new album Leg is an irreverent kaleidoscope of noise rock, post-hardcore, musique concrete, spoken word, chamber music, and general auditory mayhem.
But then, forget I said any of that. The first song, “Mum, Tell Him”—after a very brief bout of radio interference—starts off with some of the most gorgeous droning keyboard and intoned vocals in recent memory. It could almost be an early Frightened Rabbit track if not for how it will steadily change. Guitar feedback creeps in over the course of time, and the vocals gradually move from their chant-like tone to a full-blown keen. The band is patient in their gathering maelstrom, and waits more than three minutes and thirty seconds before they allow the drums to come in. Here, it becomes a triumphant gallop, palm-muted chugging & all—no, really, it’s a whirlwind of a song. The song stops abruptly and the next, “Dr Thingy,” starts up exactly how you might imagine it to be if Retox ever wrote the soundtrack to a lumbering Brontosaurus. The songs are full of the measured dissonance that makes some listeners cringe and makes the more adventurous of us cackle with glee.
The thing about this record is how its tone can change on the head of a dime, despite the songwriting heavily using repetition and slow development of ideas. “Candy Pink Sparkle” starts with an austere violin solo that grows into an almost cutesy full-band section, complete with recitation of the lyrics “I don’t have the time / but I’ve all the time in the world / Candy Pink Sparkle.” Then three minutes later you find that the music sounds entirely caustic, poisonous, even with the same lyrics and minimally changed instrumental performances. This is a rare ability that Beige Palace somehow pulls off innately throughout Leg, especially on the eight minute tour-de-force album closer “Dinner Practice.”