A few tweaks here and there, and these guys could be a force to be reckoned with.
Palm Reader – Beside the Ones We Love
In a UK hardcore scene that is so packed with bands you have to be better than good to stand out, Palm Reader have always felt a bit special. Their debut album Bad Weather was a statement of intent and now with Beside the Ones We Love, they are out to prove that they are a lot more than just potential.
Which is exactly what this album does, where Bad Weather bristled, Beside the Ones we Love strides with confidence. Opener, ‘I Watched the Fire Chase My Tongue’ is a spiky hardcore track, setting you up nicely for what is to come. Palm Reader have an incredible grasp of atmosphere. Their songs don’t just barrel along blindly, crashing into things and creating a racket. Instead, even as they descend into spiky Dillinger esque tempo changes, they do everything for a reason.
This atmosphere also allows them to show off their ear for a melody. Guitarists Sam Rondeau-Smith and Andy Gillan are equally as adept at creating big sweeping moments, as they are unflinching hardcore breakdowns. Tracks like ‘Sing Out, Survivor’, see them being happy to step back and provide support to Josh McKeown’s vocals, as they provide a huge sing along track that you can already witness crowds across the country screaming along with.
In fact, Mckeown puts on the best performance of his career throughout this album. His throaty roar is wonderfully expressive and on tracks like the almost gentle ‘Travelled Paths’, he sounds like a man who means every single word that he is saying. He makes you want to stand next to him bellowing the words along in a moment of togetherness and it’s that feeling that makes this album stand out.
The closing two punch of ‘Black Hand’ and ‘Unabridged’, are where you can see how far Palm Reader have come. Both coming in at over five minutes long, they are the sign of a band moving away from the constraints of the genre. This isn’t the two minute blasts of punk rock fury that their peers are releasing (not that there is anything wrong with that) but well thought out and structured songs. ‘Black Hand’ barrels along at a hundred miles an hour, sounding like the British bastard son of Converge, who has just been let out of the house after being locked away for a long time. While the seven minute long ‘Unabridged’ starts off slow, building itself up before eventually reaching a climax. It’s a fantastic piece of work and has got to sit as one of the best album closers this year.
Not since Gallows burst onto the scene and rewrote the British hardcore rulebook has a band sounded this good. Palm Reader might not yet have reached that level of popularity, but Beside the Ones We Love suggests that they deserve it. It’s a pissed off and fantastically creative piece of work. And the rest of the UK hardcore scene better take note, because Palm Reader have staked their claim to the top of the mountain and on this form, it will take something special to knock them off.