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Palm Reader - 'Sleepless' Album Review


2. Stay Down

3. Ending Cycle

4. Willow

6. Islay

7. False Thirst

8. Brink

9. A Love That Tethers

10. Both Ends Of The Rope

After nearly giving up on the band altogether before the release of ‘Braille’, ‘Sleepless’ marks yet another sonic evolution for the Nottingham-based quintet, every successive release, from 2013’s ‘Bad Weather’ to 2018’s critically acclaimed ‘Braille’, has shown progression, each album building upon the last without ever compromising the band’s ideals.

Starting off with the first single from the album ‘Hold/Release’ - a slow pace to begin and that is the tone until Palm Reader hit it hard at three minutes, time to unleash! Back to calm and ‘Sleepless’ is has a more professional delivery rather than the in your face Palm Reader we are used to. ‘Hold / Release’ explores the notion of toxic masculinity, how men are sometimes discouraged from sharing their problems in an attempt to live up to a false idea of what they should be. ‘That attitude can tear people apart’ says Mckeown, "I’ve seen it happen to people. I've been scared of it happening to myself. It’s a subject that I‘ve particularly gravitated towards of late." Inspired in part by Grayson Perry’s 2016 book 'The Descent of Man', the song provides a sober reflection on the dire consequences such an attitude can have, especially in the UK where suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 45 in the country.

I’m wrong...welcome ‘Stay Down’ the aggression we have been waiting for. ‘Stay Down’ is most reminiscent of the Hardcore sound Palm Reader fans will be familiar with, a ferocious ode to perseverance and overcoming adversity in trying circumstances. ‘A running theme throughout all the albums has been the idea of overcoming obstacles’ vocalist Josh Mckeown says. "I'm not sure if that's me reassuring myself or trying to reassure other people, but it’s essentially about getting up after you’ve been knocked down." Third track of the album is ‘End Cycle’ - we enter back into the calmer side of the Nottingham-based quintet. Even though the vocals are harsh, rough and raw, the calmness and rhythm doesn’t change until deep into the track.

Next, ‘Willow’ - the huge stadium filling drums are hit with pure venom together with a huge base line and massive riffs to die for. What a track. There seems to be a rollercoaster forming with this album as we dive into ‘A Bird And It’s Feathers’ - it’s heavy and has that same big stadium feeling but it’s calmer. Being the joint longest track on the album, it has everything Palm Reader is about and more. ‘A Bird And It’s Feathers’ is a dark love song (perhaps a first for Palm Reader), which gradually rolls in on a dark cloud of menace before building to a cathartic and noisy conclusion that ceases abruptly to make way for a short sharp cacophony of brass. “Within the sonic landscape of Palm Reader there isn't usually an opportunity to write about affection.” remarks Mckeown, further cementing the desire Palm Reader have shown to move forward as a band.

‘Islay’ is very much a half way break, a peaceful one at that.

Bringing us back up to speed is ‘False Thirst’ - building slowly and with even a piano piece, heart beating drums come in with lead vocals and Palm Reader create a different sound. One with soft emotions but it isn’t long till we have the classic sound of the band seep through. Something about this track gives it more than any other tracks so far. Next up is “Brink” - back to the more original sound of Palm Reader. Its deep bass riffs and hard hitting drums gives you everything, this live all blow you away, it’s going to melt your face off.

Second to last track is ‘A Love That Tethers’ this track has much the same feel as “Brink” but at a calmer level, especially as we hit one minute and twenty-five seconds but as we all know, that doesn’t stop this band from kicking right back into gear and we are left with arena filling sound which is where this band should be, their talent is underrated.

Last we have ‘Both Ends Of The Rope’ this is the ending we expected, it’s fast, full of life and powerful. We even go into a slight electronic sound towards the end of the track. This is another step forward for Palm Reader, another fantastic album where they have managed to secure a recognisable sound.

Review - Jake Williams


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