Fake Palms Make Lemonade on the Life-Affirming 'Lemons'

BY Alisha MughalPublished Sep 14, 2022

Near the end of the penultimate track of their third album Lemons, Fake Palms' mastermind Michael le Riche croons "I do exist, do exist, do exist" with such gusto as to suggest he could go on forever. A vortex of swirling guitar and insistent drums, it's the kind of sonic swell you might find in '90s slacker rock or early 2000s punk rock — heck, even '90s Brit pop, perhaps closing a good Oasis track. The song, "Bloom," is a stellar encapsulation of the endeavour of the album itself — with expert guitar and drum work that harkens to the best of roaring indie rock, equal parts chaos and control, Lemons is a zesty, life-affirming punch to the gut.

Produced by Breeze's Josh Korody, Lemons features an impressively skilled supporting cast who bolster le Riche's kinetic songwriting. Dilly Dally's Ben Reinhartz handles drums and percussion (with a guest appearance by Sauna's Braeden Craig on "Visions"), while Ducks Ltd's Evan Lewis slings guitar on a handful of tracks and Twist's Laura Hermiston lends her voice to the album's opening and closing songs. This is all to say, a lot of skilled people are at complementary play on Lemons, and it certainly shows. 

The guitar and drum work are two of the three stars of the show. On every track they remain in knowing conversation with one another, the drums keeping a playful yet intuitively familiar pace as the guitars careen, plucking their satisfyingly visceral hooks as if from thin air. Third track "Satellite" perfectly showcases this delightful friction, seemingly spontaneous but evidently, expertly controlled. Ben Reinhartz's drums pound a bone-rattling beat reminiscent of Meg White's thunderous rhythms, or perhaps Kiwi Jr.'s, while the guitar work is so stunning as to not only be a curious (and therefore compelling) accompaniment to the other elements, but also serves as punctuation for le Riche's lyrics. 

Those lyrics are the obvious third star of Lemons — though they don't always make for the best anthemic sing-alongs, le Riche's words add a refreshing modernism to the punk rock sound through their sweetly optimistic existentialism. "Desperate, jaded / and you're mine," begins "The Curl," with its guitars like the swelling of waves. "All the answers sort out into time," le Riche croons, his words speaking to the prickliness of life but also offering a light and forward-looking solution. "To provide an answer for your thirst / we can hide the nepotism curse," he offers later, in a tone conciliatory and kind, carefree, a decided balm that pushes against the many lyrics elsewhere that point to the bleakness of the world. 

On the penultimate "Bloom," as the drums and guitar make jaunty small talk, le Riche's words continue their airy search for meaning, for ways to fill up emptiness; grim as these ideas may sound, le Riche's voice holds a plucky perseverance, undergirding potentially heavy ideas with hope — it's evident in the way his words look for redefinition, for something more, for something at all. In a sense, Lemons contains a sort of courage.  

And as le Riche closes "Bloom" on that circular mantra — "I do exist / do exist" — Lemons leaves us on a note of existentialism that's refreshingly life affirming, ultimately making it all the easier to abandon oneself to the music without guilt. Replete with endlessly compelling tracks that will make a home in your mind on first listen, Lemons is bright and refreshing, familiar yet new, and as optimistic as it is expertly wrought. 
(Hand Drawn Dracula)

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