I am a man who loves music. This love fuels a deep and vast knowledge of all sorts of music, ranging from the popular to the esoteric, the accessible to the absurd, and the heavy to the light. One of the curses of this encyclopedic knowledge and unyielding capacity to obtain new music is that new music, whether new to exist or simply new to me, seems to yield many more unmemorable, uninteresting, or even mediocre products than it used to. True gems seem to be getting harder to come by. I amicably accept my dilemma, wading through the sea of content like an old man at a beach with a metal detector, searching for that shiny metallic treasure hidden within. In addition, while I enjoy writing about music, my output is typically determined by a motivation stemming from the release subject to my scrutiny. Due to this, if a musical piece pushes me to articulate my thoughts about it in writing, I probably consider it either laudable or terrible. (Spoiler: This review is praiseworthy)
After a time of recycling through old favorites and sifting through the sands of new prospects, I struck gold with the debut LP of Louisiana native yet San-Fran based psych-poppers Painted Palms. Their second overall release “Forever” calls to mind echoes of many of my favorite albums, most notably the Beach Boys’ seminal “Pet Sounds,” Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” and last year’s “Wondrous Bughouse,” a personal favorite of mine birthed by the artist Youth Lagoon.
I must’ve heard about this album about a month ago, and promptly recognized my desire to have it. After snagging a copy right away, I quickly discovered its dysfunctional nature which rendered it unplayable, and I made no further effort to rectify the situation. Time passed, and after hearing a couple tracks in a couple instances, the light bulb in my head finally turned on. “Man, I’ve really gotta get this album soon.” Doing so was a good choice.
One thing must be explicitly established: this release is downright catchy. The repetitive yet morphing rhythms facilitate a group of songs that a listener will be glad is stuck in their head. Layered with the MIDI patterns of Animal Collective, calling to mind Panda Bear’s poppier, more choral touch to the group, and loaded with the atmosphere of Youth Lagoon, Painted Palm’s Forever succeeds in paying homage to its influences while not falling into the pit of unoriginality and plastic tendencies that many of its contemporaries blandly occupy. It would have been easy for Painted Palms to craft a release that gets swallowed by its influences, but rather, they managed to craft one that stands on its own and sounds good doing it. The material on the album varies, containing a bulk of straightforward psyched-out pop numbers (see: “Forever”) as well as atmospheric crescendo type numbers such as “Soft Hammer.”
The albums that principally come to mind whilst listening to this release are “Pet Sounds” and Panda Bear of Animal Collective’s opus “Person Pitch.” The latter is an exceptional album, but sometimes falls astray while meandering through unfocused, calm almost-ambient atmospheric sections. “Forever” could possibly be described as a sort of cross between the two, taking some of the best aspects of both and mashing them together to create something special. Although the chances of this AnCo-esque psychedelic-electronic tinged pop type of music resulting in a piece of tepid mediocrity are high, when done right, the product can be exceptional. “Forever” embodies the latter. An attempt could be made to give an in-depth account of the various nuances, sounds, and songs of this album, but it would be futile. It’s no secret that words are simply inferior substitutes to the experience of the concepts that they define, and this review is no anomaly. Listen to the album, there’s not a single bum track on it. The year is still young, but I have a nagging suspicion that “Forever” will remain in contention for a spot near the top. On a 5-point rating scale, “Forever” clocks in at a solid 4.