Palma Violets

180

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During the 2000s and 2010s, too many British indie bands re-created and combined the sounds of past greats with too little inspiration or originality, but the Palma Violets blend their reverence for their forebears with enough vitality to make their debut album, 180, a notable one. These songs reveal a band that's brawnier than your average Brit-rock upstarts -- there's more muscle in their attack, and their raspy baritone vocals are a nice change from the reedy tenors and Ian Curtis clones that front so many of their contemporaries. To be fair, Chilli Jenson and Sam Fryer's voices often recall Bad Seeds-era Nick Cave and the Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce, but at least those are slightly more unusual touchstones; either way, the authority and heft of their singing on songs like "Tom the Drum" is refreshing. Peter Mayhew's keyboards may be the Violets' secret weapon, helping the band tackle garage rock rave-ups ("Rattlesnake Highway") and moodier post-punk ("Chicken Dippers") as the mood strikes with equal flair. Pulp's Steve Mackey produced 180 and helps the band maintain the grit of its live shows on record; this just rough enough sound emphasizes the Palma Violets' way with a rousing chorus, particularly on the former singles "Best of Friends" and "Last of the Summer Wine." Elsewhere, they sound irresistible and irrepressible on "Johnny Bagga' Donuts" and "We Found Love," and raggedly romantic on "Three Stars" and "All the Garden Birds," both of which have a poetic ebb and flow that narrowly avoids collapsing on itself. Indeed, sometimes the looseness that makes 180 so charming borders on unfocused rambling, but for the most part, the Palma Violets keep it in check on this entertaining, promising debut.

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