When you hear a debut album for the first time you instantly try to compare it to other music to judge where it stands and with Painted Palms’ debut Forever it’s a whirlpool of a combination that takes in the likes of Animal Collective, Simian Ghost and The Shins. It’s a pop album with experimental psych influences that’s an easy listen from start to end, but equally it’s based in a sort of blend of 60s sounds taking in everything from the Beach Boys to The Shirelles at moments.
The album opens out with Too High, which you’d be forgiven for thinking was created by a supergroup that contains James Mercer, Panda Bear and Erik Klinga. It’s upbeat with a cool drum track and cyclical synth and sci-fi sounds. It’s followed up with the similar Here It Comes, which transition in with more bells and a slightly more relaxed flow.
Hypnotic rides a little sharper, taking a turn in a different direction where Too High and Here It Comes are built in the same foundations. It’s got a great beat underpinning it and the addition of electric guitar riff samples to bring in a little slab of edge. The vocals are like the name, wrapping your tiny mind into its complexities and drawing you into the fun of the album.
The title track, Forever, is a little darker in the build up, but with a classic roving chorus, making it a bit like a thistle caught on your favourite baggy, wooly jumper. We’re not sure if that makes any sense whatsoever, but it’s true nonetheless. It’s got vague traces of Beatles-like construction in parts and adds a good level of variation to the album.
It’s followed up by Soft Hammer, which is a modern take on 50s melodic love songs, with a nice downbeat shuffle, more great drum beats and impressive vocals. The experimental kicks in about half way through the track as it winds up the electro synth mix before dropping back to the acoustic comedown ending.
Carousel is a bit too vocally floaty at the start to work well, but it does have some good melodies and distorted guitar to win it back around. Not Really There builds on this uplift with more spiralling genius with some electro organ synth melodies, random noise texture and good vocals that spin you into the charm of the track.
Next up is the minor industrial interlude of Hope That You See It Now, which has got elements of David Bowie’s German trio and The Horrors’ Skying. It’s followed by the track of the album, Spinning Signs (listen to the stream below), which sums up the cyclone style that makes Forever so interesting. It stretches a helter skelter up into the heart of the album and instigates a memory that’ll bring you back to the record for more, like you’re caught at the end of a ball of twine connected to the rotor blades of a helicopter.
Sleepwalking starts out abstract with its depth charge opening, but transitions into more of the 50s melody/modern day electro-pop mash-up to create a cool pop track. The penultimate song, Empty Gun, feels a little hollow for some reason, but its listenable enough. It might be the only contender for a skip track on the entire 12 song album, which isn’t really a bad thing in all fairness.
Forever finishes off on acoustic simplicity that works very well to tie up an impressive debut album. It’s mellow and roomy, but when the electric guitar comes in towards the end it moves into slightly grundgier territory making it a class experiment for Painted Palms that works really well.
Forever is scheduled for release by Polyvinyl Records on the 14th January 2014.
Painted Palms, Forever review: 4/5
Painted Palms, Spinning Signs stream:
Painted Palms, Forever track list:
1. Too High
2. Here It Comes
5. Soft Hammer
7. Not Really There
8. Hope That You See It Now
9. Spinning Signs
11. Empty Gun