Palmistry - PAGAN (B-)

Despite being around since 2013, I’d never heard of Palmistry before June 24th. Benjy Keating, the man behind Palmistry, kept a fairly low profile, even his 2014 EP, Lil’ Gem, slipped below most radars. It wasn’t until his 2015 single, “Memory Taffeta,” that he garnered more substantial interest, and yet I remained unaware. So when I started PAGAN, purely out of curiosity, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The album is incredibly smooth, comfortably sitting within its glossy superficial sound. I’d almost liken it to a tropical pop (trop-pop?!?) version of Washed Out’s Within and Without (one of my all time favorites) mixed with SOHN’s Tremors. And while the aforementioned records’ depth can’t be matched on PAGAN, it does provide a similar serenity. Depending on who you are, the album’s consistency could either hit the spot or push you away. It doesn’t deviate from it’s simple formula, making all the songs sound fairly similar. Personally, I’ve only found comfort in that approach, letting my ears take a 36 minute break. Benjy's soft and polished vocals are used in a unique fashion, as he often mumbles his way through the track, using his voice more as a complementary sound rather than a means to connect with you through lyrics. I found the lack of articulation a plus, it allowed me to immediately lose myself in the sound, not having to concern myself with deciphering his melodic sing-speak. 

All in all, PAGAN is going to be one of my constant companions this summer; it’s light, fun, and the instrumental tracks provide great transitions throughout the record. With everything heavy that’s going on in the world, sometimes it’s nice to just throw on something uncomplicated and let it take you away, and that’s exactly what this does. 

Broods - Conscious (B)

First I’d like to applaud and commemorate Broods on a past act that, because it occurred way before this site was operational, has never been recognized. Back in 2014 they released an EP, a spectacular one might I add (Broods), and then released their debut LP without featuring any songs from said EP. Those who know me know it’s a massive pet peeve of mine to release EPs that play like album teasers filing those tracks into the debut. It messes with continuity and the feel is thrown off. I know this complaint is quite possibly only specific to me, but still, the fact that they avoided this grievance pleases me greatly. Thank you Broods, from the bottom of my heart. Now we can move forward, emotionally and in this review. 

Hailing from New Zealand, the group is comprised of siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott. Only eight months after their first release, the self titled EP, Broods dropped their debut album Evergreen (and had it not been for SOHN’s Tremors, would have held the title of best debut album of 2014). The record took off immediately, landing them opening act runs for both Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith. When I first heard it I was instantly taken, it felt like The xx on steroids, delivering an all consuming dark pop atmosphere that just made you want to move. That feeling is enhanced and pushed harder in their new record, Conscious. With Evergreen they seemed to always be straddling the line of full fledged pop and down tempo grooves. They don’t have that issue here, attacking each track with confidence, causing the flow and overall approach to feel much more defined and structured. They maintain complete control of the mood, transitioning from track to track with precision and maturity. And while it’s their more upbeat tracks that wrap you up initially (the album opener/ lead single, "Free," is perfect), it’s when they take a step back that I feel they're at their best. Tracks like “Heartlines” or the album closer and title track “Conscious” get under your skin, making you want to close your eyes and exist in the sound.

They have this contradictory loud but soft approach to their sound that, while it was definitely present the first time around, has matured a great deal with Conscious. It allows the album to work on multiple levels and within a wider range of emotions. That may not seem like a major plus to you, but for me, albums with versatility are royalty. This record both lifts and calms me, makes me think but also makes me want to dance. I dig it. 

Conscious is an improvement on every level for me, it’s easy to see that they’ve grown as artists in all aspects of their craft, from the way they build their tracks, to the instrumentation within, to the lyricism, everything has matured. The song I was going to choose to represent the album, and my instant favorite from the record, is called “All Of Your Glory.” It's a beautiful cry of love to someone when things feel distant; the simplified approach lets you fully focus on the words as the music calms you (think "Hamburg Song" from Keane). However, due to the nature of the song I think it’d be best to include a second track, so you could get a feel for what the rest of the album is like, so I’m also choosing the aforementioned title track, “Conscious,” the track they said is the one they’re most excited to play live. I love this record, and it gets better every time I listen, don’t skip it.