Sep 04, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
On Painted Palms' second album, Horizons, the duo updates its sound by 20 years; moving from the '60s pop-psychedelia of its debut full-length, Forever, to the fritter-y synth-pop of the '80s. And boy, do Painted Palms love their synths. The synth experimentation of Forever has given way to a more playful use of those instruments on Horizons, which makes it far less complicated and infinitely more fun. Plus Painted Palms have upped their game by taking Horizons out of the bedroom environment and having one time DFA mix engineer Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem, Classixx) take a crack at it.
Painted Palms have chosen one of the most lighthearted and enjoyable, if stereotypical groups of the '80s era to emulate: Kajagoogoo. Sadly not all of Horizons sounds like that group but on the imminently danceable "Contact," the carefree "Control," and expansive "Waterfall," they do an admirable imitation. In an unexpected turn, the melody line from The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" is reinterpreted inventively on the aptly fluid "Glaciers" which also borrows a proggy synth line from the '70s. The darkest Painted Palms get is on the still-animated "Disintegrate" which has a rhythmic lock-in groove within its depths.
This time period jump with the same musical elements is an interesting move for Painted Palms. The quality of their productions hasn't declined in the least, just changed. At this rate, by album three they will have crossed over to the millennium and start sounding like some acts on the DFA roster—which didn't quite happen on Horizons. (www.paintedpalms.net)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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