Sometime around the release of their acclaimed Trading Basics LP in 2015, Hudson NY four-piece Palm realized they were a pop band in disguise. The songs comprising their new EP, Shadow Expert, were recorded around this time, and feature a stronger focus on the band's sharp melodies and Panda Bear-esque vocal layers.
While these six tracks can be uncannily catchy, they are still run through the disjointed filter that made Palm such a curious band to begin with. Every earworm on the record is chopped into pieces that dance around the mix, calling to and rebutting each other in chaotic harmony. Cartoon-like guitar sweeps and effects swirl around the groove of "Two Toes," each with its own distinct blend of reverb and EQ, giving a disorienting sense of depth to the band's intertwined sonic textures.
Vocalists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt whip up a similar sort of interplay on lead single "Walkie Talkie," mirroring the wild vectors of their guitar lines, and the band's adept rhythm section holds all these vivid pieces together nicely. They anchor the guitars' exuberant yelps in a strangely cohesive sonic collage of live instruments throughout the title track's contorted odd metres as well as the stumbling flourishes of "Walnut."
Initially, it's hard to believe that all the bizarre little details and flashes of dissonance on Shadow Expert are intentionally placed, but Palm will undoubtedly draw you back into a world of broken musical laws and compositional anarchy. They may be the experts, but they invite us all to negotiate the terms of their quiet little pop paradise. (Carpark)