The Wild Palms sound is reminiscent of late 80’s-early 90’s goth-tinged indie (think Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure circa Head on the Door.) Right now, this is not a commercially lucrative furrow to plough and nor is it particularly as ‘cool’ as it once was and so an album like ‘Until Spring’ exudes a sense of what-the-hell freedom and sincerity that makes it simultaneously an act of homage and of exploration.
Songs idle, twist and sprawl just this side of self-indulgence (‘Not Wing Clippers’ from example is fourteen minutes long) and have a dusky lustre to them. Guitar effects billow, distortion becomes arrangement and bass has the brassy tone and simplicity of every indie outfit from the Smiths to New Order. The vocals are emotive but sound as if there is little to the frame that produces them - and so come the choruses where Lou Hill’s voice soars and holds its own against squalls of guitar it is a pleasantly emotional surprise.
Songs like ‘Delight in Temptation’ are underpinned with the mournful, meandering twangs of an Elbow or Doves and leading us into swelling, glitterballs of choruses to which Hills’s vocal is the equal.
And there are more languid pieces to offset the guitar heavy numbers ‘LHC’, for example, begins with a piano and vocal both of which produce melody so simple the track sounds like a lullaby by Tim Burton before swelling into a twilit ballad replete with fiddle and a slow cascade of drums. This mix of energy and slow burn suggest a band with a sense of musical curiosity about them. And to sound this earnest without irony is a brave thing in these times.
The Palms have produced an album that paradoxically manages to sound fresh and individual whilst at the same time being shot through with the spirit of a much earlier scene.