Sunday 17 February 2013

Palma Violets - 180 - album review

Palma Violets '180' (Rough Trade)


Released 25th February 2013 

It’s quite a heady accolade to be named Best Song of 2012 for any band, yet alone for a debut album for a band that’s only been in existence 16 months, yet that’s where we find Palma Violets, and now we have their debut album, 180, released on the back of no little hype of being the next saviours of indie music, and heirs to London’s alternative throne.  

Some exciting energetic live shows in unusual venues in the capital have added to the hype, but can they deliver across a full album format. The answer isn’t a resounding yes.  The immediate reaction on first listen is that they should have played the longer game and put out a few more singles, learning their studio craft more and finding their feet as a band, before putting out their first album. 

In the dark days facing the music industry at present, a debut album that doesn’t sell can kill a band stone dead so diving in so early in their development is a risky move the band. The songs are there for the most part, or at least the basis of them is.  Best Friends is obviously a stand out track and kicks off the album.   However, most of the rest does feel like they’ve put out the first eleven songs they’ve written without the filter that another year or so of songwriting would give them.
Step Up For The Cool Cats and All The Garden Birds do actually make up a great trio of opening tracks, but things take a turn for the worse with Rattlesnake Highway and Chicken Dippers both feel unstructured and lacking in a little guile without capturing the energy that both songs have in their live performances.

Last Of The Summer Wine slows things down and is much better for it, although it tails off in a strange melee of drums at the end.   Tom The Drum features some unusual vocal effects which work really well although it does jump around a bit pace-wise which impacts on the flow of the song. 

Johnny Bagga’ Donuts and We Found Love show what Palma Violets are capable of; exciting, fresh-sounding straight-forward rock music and Three Stars is a beautiful heartfelt song that is the highlight of the album and shows off their softer edge. Closer, 14, doesn’t quite reach the same heights and encapsulates the album as a whole. 

It showcases a band that’s doing its growing up in a public with the whole weight of expectations on them.  There’s potential there, undoubtedly, but you have to hope for their sake that they don’t get buried under the weight of expectation of the London media to become the heir apparents to The Libertines. 

Give them space, let them breathe and they might surprise us all.

Track Listing: 1. Best of Friends 2. Step Up for the Cool Cats 3. All the Garden Birds 4. Rattlesnake Highway 5. Chicken Dippers 6. Last of the Summer Wine 7. Tom the Drum 8. Johnny Bagga' Donuts 9. I Found Love 10. Three Stars 11. 14

Palma Violets website can be found here. They're also on Facebook and Twitter.

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