Palehound: Black Friday (Polyvinyl) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, December 12th, 2019  

Palehound

Black Friday

Polyvinyl

Aug 07, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


There's something comforting about Palehound. It's almost surprising given the subject matter the trio led by singer/songwriter Ellen Kempner offers up. Abuse features more than once on Black Friday, as do songs dealing with painful self-doubt and unrequited emotional investment.

Kempner has said she doesn't generally turn to her guitar when she's happy and it shows, but it also doesn't. The lyrics are sharp and concise, cutting sometimes, even as the music itself bounces along. Take "Killer," a revenge fantasy against an abuser. There's an Elliott Smith vibe until the chorus lands with a carefully timed swing, Kempner singing, "I wanna be the one who kills the man who hurt you, darling."

They've found a combo that works for them. Palehound has released good records before but now, on their third release, content and feel are in sync. Comfort comes as a result, Black Friday wrapping unsparing divestment in a classic indie sound of decades gone by.

What follows is music that can be ridiculously infectious, as it is on "The City," opening with an acoustic guitar that sets it off down an irresistible path. "Stick N Poke," with its slick bassline and a chorus that finds Kempner repeating "I think I'm due for a shitty tattoo" as the guitar dances over her vocals, is another example of this catchy and precise style Palehound has mastered.

Then there's "Bullshit," which is anything but its title, led by a gorgeous riff and slower rhythm that could have come straight from Aimee Mann circa Magnolia. It didn't, it came from Palehound, a band that has hinted, suggested, and occasionally shouted its potential before without quite sustaining it across a full record. Now they have. Challenging themes mix with a sound retro, fresh and, in a turbulent, introspective kind of way, mostly just fun. (www.palehound.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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