There’s a tricky balance to achieve when wearing your influences on your sleeve. Lean too far one way and you’ll find yourself cast as an unoriginal take on well tred territory but too far the other way may result in being shrugged off as not-as-good-as when the originator did the thing you love. The latest from Palm Ghosts finds the band walking that razor wire and finding just the right balance of instantly familiar yet notably original.
Just a few moments into “Wide Awake And Waiting” and you’ll be reminded of the likes of Joy Division, Bauhaus or The Jesus and Mary Chain (of which they have a highly enjoyable cover). While plenty of music has space-y guitars, melodic bass lines and forelorn baritone vocals, it’s hard not to instantly make the comparison when all three are presented at once. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of music being made in 2020 within this genre, so it’s instantly a highly repeatable treat to have new music incubated from a period some 30-years old.
The accompanying video is an appropriately black-and-white affair filled with glitching static transitions between a mind-numbing variety of scenes that include stop motion nature, people and places from another time, artistic squibbles, cells and even the occasional haunting specter. If you encountered this being projected at a high class art gallery, you’d sit and stare for a spell, no doubt. There’s a very subtle transition near the end that begins to incorporate color footage, hinting either at a future sequel to this piece or simply a metaphorical emergence from the darkness. Either way, we’re in.
Palm Ghosts have been crafting post-punk, shoegaze, quasi-goth style tracks since as far back as 2014 and it’s quite evident that they’ve refined their techniques quite sharply here in 2020.