For the better part of the year, PALM HONEY have been blowing our minds with their anthemic psychedelic rock. Consequently, they were one of our thirty Favorite Hidden Gems of 2016 and a popular choice to be the surprise breakout band from the UK, following in the footsteps of Wolf Alice, Black Honey, and fellow Reading mates Sundara Karma. The unexpected release of their debut EP last week will definitely aid the quartet’s cause.
Tucked into the Electronic Wave contains four songs of the expected and unexpected. The blistering, psychedelic rockers remain, and they give credence to the comparisons to Temples and POND. For instance, “Stick The Knife In” is a melodic force of sound. It starts off with a trippy vibe before slowly intensifying into a piercing hurricane of noise. The ending is awesome, reminiscent of hearing Tame Impala and My Bloody Valentine perform live. Following a more dreamy and hazy approach, “Going Normal” is Temples-esque in its delivery, which is perfect for this song about transcendence and renewal.
The EP’s bookends are where PALM HONEY really shine. The opener, “Palace”, is actually a song the band released as a demo more than two years ago. At the time, it was more of a melodic, psychedelic-pop tune along the lines of “Going Normal”. It has been transformed into a heart-stopping, cross-cutting gem that is part jazz, part psychedelic, and 100% brilliant. The addition of horns and a more booming rhythm section elevate the song to new heights. Frontman Joseph Mumford’s vocals, meanwhile, are stirring, and the songwriting is thoughtful and fantastic, as he sings about a person’s struggle with mental illness.
This is my unbridled descent into madness.
My resent to the depths of my conscience.
Everything is so out of focus.
It’s been so long since feeling anything at all.
The record ends with another multi-dimensional epic in “I Can Try”. Unlike the other songs on the EP, this track starts off with a fiery, creepy refrain right out of a Richard Swift number. The guitar work is searing and Mumford’s vocals wail with the agony of a lost soul. The song then undergoes multiple transitions while weaving in several undercurrents (saxophone, keys, synthesizers, digital effects) to reflect the crazy and unsettling world we live. From graceful to whimsical to fierce, the song touches on a variety of emotions and even experiences. By the time this nearly eight-minute monster comes to a close, all one can do is stand and applaud. “I Can Try” is PALM HONEY’s “Brain Damage/Eclipse”, but harder and even more epic.
Although the EP is only four songs, Tucked into the Electronic Wave is an eye-popping achievement. Sonically, it is a mind-bending experience. Lyrically, it is intelligent, intimate, and considerate. A veteran band would be immensely proud of what they’ve produced, but for PALM HONEY this is just the tip of the iceberg.
PALM HONEY are Joseph Mumford, Harrison Clark, Sebastian Bowden, and Ayden Spiller.
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