The Bots

Pink Palms

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The Bots' early singles and albums often gave the impression that they were the work of a few different bands; Pink Palms, the duo's full-length debut for Fader, is similarly confusing, but not unpleasantly so. Even the album's title is a bit ambiguous -- are Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei referring to rosy hands or fake trees? -- but this uncertainty is an apt expression of the brothers' stylistically hyperactive music. Though their stated influences include the White Stripes and Black Keys, the Bots engage in far riskier and more interesting collisions of sounds on Pink Palms, and more often than not, elements that should be at odds end up working well together. "Won" pits dense guitars against dub-inspired verses, while "Alanna" seems like standard-issue, head-bopping garage pop until a burbling synth solo briefly transports the song to a different dimension. The Bots' mercuriality reflects their status as 2010s teens (Mikaiah, the eldest Bot, was 20 at the time of Pink Palms' release) with sounds, ideas, and emotions coming at them from all directions. There's a weird mix of enthusiasm and boredom in their music that sounds completely unique and suits the Leis' snapshots of teenage life perfectly. You can practically hear Mikaiah's eyes roll as he mumbles "Waiting for something good to happen -- that's if anything ever happens" on the pre-life-crisis anthem "All I Really Want." Elsewhere, the brothers sing the praises of nonconformists on highlights as different as "Wet Blanket"'s slinky ennui, "All of Them"'s twangy indie pop, and "Bad Friends"' confessional rock. The Leis frontload Pink Palms with some of their most experimental songs, like the loping skatepunk of "Ubiquitous," leaving more typical garage-punk-blues hybrids like "Ethiopia" -- which recalls a lot of the early-2000s bands that emerged after the Stripes' and Strokes' breakthroughs -- to close the album. At its best, Pink Palms is quirky in the best sense of the word; it's got a lot of personality and plenty of unexpected twists. Though it might be wise for the Bots to narrow their focus next time around, wondering what they'll do next is a big part of this album's fun.

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