Hailing from London, blues-infused four-piece Palace have stapled themselves as one of the most exciting acts to emerge from the UK music scene in recent years. Having released their debut EP in 2014, the band have since gone from strength-to-strength, now homing in on their unique brand of mesmerising indie-pop on their latest full-length offering Shoals.
Confronting their fears and anxieties with the pedal through the floor, the quartet have written a step-by-step instruction manual on overcoming loss and embracing the real ‘us’. Travelling through the existential “Gravity” to the haunting delicacy of “Fade” and the nostalgic undertones of “Give Me The Rain”, Shoals is a journey through the the band's collective mind.
Opening track “Never Said It Was Easy” embraces you with an opening chorus of vocalisations, backed by insistent synths veiled in melancholy. The emotive vocals pack a punch in a heart-wrenching delivery as the band introduce their album with a nostalgic run-through of years gone by.
Where “Shame On You” was pleading and emotive, “Fade” greets with cathartic, hypnotic drum rhythms before stripping back to allow the vocals to take centre stage. “I'm breaking down / Inside of my head … Inside I'm a mess” externalises the emotional turmoil of fearing for the future as lead singer Wyndham lends an insight into his deepest worries. The cut features the urgency found in Alabama Shakes’ numbers, but with their own sonic twist.
Lead single “Gravity” dabbles in shoegaze soundscapes whilst exploring existentialism through philosophical lamentations. The boldness of the track juxtaposes the narrative of cosmological insignificance, as profound self-realisation oozes in sultry vocals. Backed by funky basslines and smooth, rolling percussive notes, the track hits an explosive climax before delving back into bluesy beats.
Stripped-back blues influence are prevalent throughout - with the suave elegance of “Killer Whale” Palace ruminate on time, where in “Lover (Don’t Let Me Down)”, we see the four-piece experiment with tales of the heart. With “Where Sky Becomes Sea”, Palace round off their journey with soft and woozy instrumentation as the LP slowly tapers to a close with layered harmonies and scattered vocal intonations.
With this album, Palace have offered a spiritual voyage through the fluctuations of life, and the uncertainty that holds its hand. If Shoals is anything to go by, Palace will be filling stadiums before too long.