Four-piece band from Reading, Palm Honey, have released an experimental debut EP, ‘Tucked into the Electronic Wave’. With it, they have superbly re-ignited the long-forgotten era of British psychedelic rock
Full of punchy synthetic twangs that support prominent pop-rock guitar. Tucked into the Electronic Wave recapitulates the dreamy ripples of sound that psych-pop-rock prided itself on in the latter half of the 20th century.
The new EP distances itself from the band’s older up-beat style, such as their 2015 single, “Bewitched”. Thematically, their music has gained, as frontman Joseph Mumford notes, “a dark undercurrent”. And so, it has naturally slowed down in beat and tone. This is evident in the EP’s first track “Palace”, as vocals explain, “everything is so out of focus”, exposing the hidden anxieties interwoven into the music.
“Palace” first introduces the new uncertainty that Palm Honey have come to terms with. “Abstract are the patterns in my mind”. Synthetic sounds bring uncertainty onto the horizon whilst high octave plucky guitar notes spring to life a looming darkness of one’s consciousness, a recurring theme within the EP. Further sound simulation within “Palace” dumps any trace of sound-mindedness, with the bursting sound of saxophone emphasising the true insanity of the song. Self, “descent into madness”, is understood, and shortly after almost apocalyptic guitar licks bring with them a burning desire that everything is going to go wrong. Distant and echoing synthetic organ sounds accentuate the unstable mood. However, with the middle 8 comes hope. Short and sharp guitar strokes bring with them a feeling of optimism. Yet this optimism is swiftly brought to a close with the return of perilous percussion, accompanied by spiralling synthetics. Eventually, flowing neatly into “Stick the knife in”. A clear innuendo that allows for the paranoia to continue.
Palm Honey have here managed to do what many modern bands simply cannot. “Palace” and “Stick the knife in” are elegantly interconnected. The last time such neat connections were made, were present throughout Pink Floyd’s, Dark Side of The Moon. Palm Honey make full use of this hazy link by continuing the anxious rhythm previously experienced. Slow, soft guitar, that eventually morphs into a hard-hitting aggressive riff opens up the existing confusion. An old sound is entwined with a contemporary one, bringing a mismatch of personalities with no room for fault. Arguably, the guitar here embodies the spectrum upon which the synthetic board stitches up the gaps, as pictured in the EPs artwork. The sewing together of the spectrum creates an end product of self-understanding and acceptance- wholeness, almost. The song ends in confidence, “no-one is worth my time”. There is a pinch of victory within the vocals, but also the introduction of ignorance. The song comes to an abrupt end, which could signify the end of the anxiety Palm Honey has been harmoniously trying to escape.
We’re then introduced to the heavenly sound of “Going Normal”. The title says just as much, as Palm Honey re-gain their psychedelic roots with a dreamy rhythmic beat. Light man-made sound hosts deep bass that elevates a grounding sensation. A true musical paradox. Light percussion that overlays stringy guitar plucks brings a serene state of being. Whilst licks take advantage of these calm conditions to assert dominance, a possible metaphor can be lifted for the long-sought after sound consciousness that has now been found after two long battles within “Palace” and “Stick the Knife In”. Cries of: “Feel alright / alright / okay”, embolden the bands once paranoid stricken trance. With “Going Normal”, Palm Honey have achieved liberation from the depths of their own consciousness.
Something that has been lost from the golden era of psych rock is the length in which the songs would play out. You’d be lucky to hear a 21st century song that was a third of the length of Jimi Hendrix’s’ “Voodoo Chile”, or The Rolling Stones’ “Going Home”. But, with the last track of the EP, “I Can try”, Palm honey have provided us with at least three minutes of raw synthetics and guitar. Hardly able to quench a bigger thirst.
With the arduous battle against one’s self, “I Can Try” highlights just how easy it is to slip back into the paranoia you thought you’d escaped. “Feels like I have been through this before”. The jumpy vocals highlight the shift between reason and emotion. The title itself proves that there is the possibility to fall back down the rabbit hole. Sharp and violent keyboard makes you feel as if you’re being sucked into something bad. A whirlwind of doubt and self-monomania, almost. But, abrupt positive notes and vocals are found a quarter of the way through, with the eternally effective saxophone returning and acting as the staple of reason. “I just don’t get it anymore”. With upbeat tonal mixture whirring away, a final journey is being made out of the depths of despair and bleakness. You’d have thought that Palm Honey had won. But you’d be wrong. Finishing off “I Can Try”, complex sounds with heavy percussion prove that the battle is far from over.
It seems that Palm Honey have successfully matured into a sound that better suits them. They’ve now effectively infused an old theme with a new deeper, well posed synthetic sound, to create an innovative expression within their music. Using music to explore consciousness has proved Palm Honey to be both musically and intellectually talented. If the band carries on to produce music like the contents of Tucked into the Electronic Wave, they could be onto something much bigger than they realise. The only thing left for them to do, is to ride out the momentum the EP has gained, and create some more imaginative music.
Palm Honey are currently on tour, and you can catch them on the following dates:
Friday 31st March, at the ‘Purple Turtle’, Reading.
Saturday 22nd April, at ‘The Montague Arms’, London.
Here’s a link to the EP:
(Photo cred: Via Facebook)