Painted Palms’ debut full-length, Forever, is an album of, and for, the modern age. The duo, consisting of cousins Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme, construct their songs in a pen-pal style that sounds surprisingly akin to the origins of the classic Postal Service album Give Up, with sound files traveling back and forth via the Internet. Donohue supplied beats and instrumentation and Prudhomme constructed complimentary lyrics and melodies, and the duo added layer upon layer, with the final outcome of 12 incredibly upbeat psych-pop ditties.
Current single “Spinning Signs” is an effortless track that will instantly appeal to fans of Tame Impala or Yeasayer (of which there are apparently many) with its dreamy drive that hearkens back to some of the best pop classics of the 80’s. Prudhomme’s voice and lyrics are technically nothing special, but he is confident enough to carry a song, and benefits from the layering and manipulation that careful production has afforded. This song will undoubtedly end up on more than a few winter mix tapes.
Part of what makes Forever so enjoyable is how much these songs sound like songs we already know and love. The title track is another stellar pop nugget, but again sounds very much like it could belong to another band’s repertoire – this time, Of Montreal circa 2006. The connection is not surprising, as it is Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes who is credited with having discovered Painted Palms. It is no crime for a band to wear its influences on its sleeve, especially when it is capable of mimicking these influences well and adding something to the interpretation.
“Carousel”, released as a single earlier this year, is a softer sounding tune, slightly dreamier and less cluttered that some of the other tracks. Clutter generally works in Painted Palms’ favour, though, as the depth of the instrumentation on most tracks hides the lack of meat to the vocals.
Forever is an excellent first album for a band. These songs have been lovingly crafted and fine-tuned, and finding a weak track on the album is nigh on impossible. Whether the duo can keep up the email-construct dynamic after extensive touring (on the horizon) and time pressures is up for debate, but it is safe to assume that Painted Palms have a few hits left in them yet.