San Francisco’s Painted Palms channel 1980’s synth pop on new album
Painted Palms debut album Forever was a jaunt into ‘psychedelic’ pop. While it was a pleasant listen, overall it was patchy. Either the music let the songs down or the lyrics did. In all fairness it was a good debut as it showed Painted Palms (of The Palms as their fans fall them) were on to something and it showed room for improvement. They’re now gearing up for the release of their second Horizon. Sadly it’s more of the same, expect this time their influences are glaring and badly executed.
Generally reviews go into massive details about what the key songs either sound like, their emotive content. I’m going to do this out of obligation, but I’m going to keep it brief. Refractor opens with a vocal harmony, then the synth comes in that sounds a bit similar. This is slightly interesting. About thirty seconds in it stops being interesting and just sounds like Soft Cell/ Erasure. Contact is slightly upbeat, but vapid. Glaciers is just a synth pop reworking of Paint it Black, and no one really wants that. Lead single Disintegrate starts off with a broody synth and bassline. The 4/4 beat is repetitive and about half way through you forget it’s there. The Italian/Madchester piano line feels out of place. We get this is meant to be your big euphoric number, all glow sticks, white gloves and hands in the air, but instead we feel slightly cheated, like when you want a drink in a club and it’s nearly £10 for a bottle of beer and £5 for a water. Waterfall is more of the same, but the lyrics are more tedious and the music sounds like the demo setting on various keyboards.
Ultimately a feeling of Déjà Vu permeates the album. While you might have heard these songs before, you’ve definitely heard elements of them before. Erasure, the Human League and even Madchester scene are all represented here. The main problem is the Christopher Prudhomme isn’t saying anything with his lyrics. After playing the album four or five times I can’t remember a single banal lyric, expect for the multiple “Ooooooooooooooooooooh’s” he utters. At times it sounds like an unconvincing band in an unconvincing teen comedy set in the 1980’s. You know the scene, there’s a party or school dance and they needed some music, but instead of paying the license for a ‘classic’ song they’ve got a current band who sound a bit 1980’s to play on of their own songs, as the actors dance/fall in love. While there isn’t anything wrong with this kind of music, and if this is your thing, cool, but it comes off feeling try hard and pretentious, sadly as does Horizons.