Palma Violets - '180' (UK Release: 25 Feb '13) // Words: Rajan Lakhani
Palma Violets are the latest in a long line of artists to be hailed as the ‘Best New Band in Britain’. However, this moniker has become a poisoned chalice, with bands more often than not failing to live up to the accolade. The group has largely gained this reputation on the back of their live performances so can they transfer this energy and momentum to their debut album?
'180' begins strongly with 'Best Of Friends', which has quickly established itself as an indie anthem – you can easily imagine students screaming out the chorus at the top of their lungs as they chug down their snakebites. 'Step Up For The Cool Cats' is equally hummable, a nod to the camaraderie not only within the band but the bond they have quickly built up with their audience.
However, the record struggles to continue this promising start, with the middle section of the record particularly forgettable. Bravado and youthful exuberance can’t mask the fact that there is a dearth of songwriting quality. Even the song titles are unimaginative – 'Tom The Drum', 'Chicken Dipper', 'Johnny Bagga Donuts' - yes, we get you like fast food!
There is some redemption in the final two tracks 'Three Stars' and '14'. Both tracks are slower in tempo, demonstrating different shades to their sound. The former builds skilfully into a Pixies style rocker, while '14' stays on the right side of sentimentality, being touching rather than mawkish.
Unfortunately, rather than leave on a high, any favourable sentiment is diminished by the nadir that is the unnamed hidden track at the end of the record. The band may claim to being ‘ironic’ with their repeated boast of "I've got a brand new song, it's gonna be a Number One/And I'd love to show the world my new song" but that would suggest they have less understanding of the word than Alanis Morrissette. Instead, the whole thing comes across as obnoxious - if there ever was a hidden track that should have remained hidden, this is a prime contender.
Industry experts have said that 2013 will see the return of rock bands to the charts but it’s difficult to see this with bands like Palma Violets leading the charge. The band have been pushed too quickly which is apparent from this messy, unfocussed album. Perhaps releasing an EP may have been a better format at this stage, giving the band more time to home their album while still taking advantage of the early momentum of their debut single.
That said, there is definitely potential in the group demonstrated by the brilliance of 'Best Of Friends' and they may yet become a musical force to be reckoned with. But at this time, don’t believe the hype.
'180' is available to purchase from amazon.co.uk. Find more info at palmaviolets.co.uk.