Tuesday, May 03, 2011

REVIEW: Wild Palms - Until Spring

Wild Palms - Until Spring

In a world where there is surplus of music – thanks to the Internet and home recording software – bands must make a fairly bold statement with their releases if they wish to rise above this ocean of music. Wild Palms showed promise with their introductory single “…Over…Time…”, but, on their debut LP, Until Spring, the band’s ambition gets the best of them.

Wild Palms embody the perseverant spirit of ‘80s post-punk, the kind that’s predicated on melancholy but breaks through the clouds. They provide moments of excited, post-punk kick (“Delight in Temptation”), dreamy gloom (“The (Never Ceasing Ever Increasing) Cavalcade”), and controlled shoegaze chaos (“To the Lighthouse”). There’s a charming quality to their scrappy underpinnings, and their ambition for something bigger than themselves is surely admirable. But this is a band that is still growing into itself.

The issue with Until Spring is that moments of strength are caught amongst a collection of other tracks that don’t quite live up to their potential. Rather than working from the ground up, Wild Palms focus their attention on the heavens, mixing their post-punk with shoegaze and post-rock style leads. The band sounds confident, but begins to lose a sense of intent by relying on the melody lying within the guitar riffs (“Caretaker,” “Carnations”) or by drawing out their soundscapes past the five and six minute marks; it's possible such tracks could have benefited from a bit of brevity. Hill has powerful pipes, a voice that can run right along with the soaring leads of guitarists Darrell Hawkins and Bobby Krlic. But defining, memorable melodies dissolve or are overshadowed by Wild Palms’ grand vision for their sound.

Until Spring is not a poor album, by any means, as it certainly has its points of success: “LHC” is a sweeping ballad that takes flight on beautiful string arrangements and reverb-painted walls of electric guitar; “Swirling Shards” twinkles, shines, and enchants with its effected guitar riff that articulates the song’s line “in this kaleidoscope.” The band knows what they want to convey, but they haven’t quite figured out how to do so compellingly. Wild Palms are a young band, and even though Until Spring doesn’t quite find its footing, it still proves that this is a band well on the way to sculpting something that matches the scale of their ambition.

Until Spring is out now on One Little Indian.

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