Mint Chip

Kamikaze Palm Tree

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Mint Chip Review

by Fred Thomas

Warped psychedelia has been the core component of Kamikaze Palm Tree's music since they began, but they add new definition to their chaotic art pop on second album Mint Chip. The duo of Dylan Hadley and Cole Berliner kept experimenting as their sound grew more structured, moving from hazy Royal Trux-meets-Kranky records long-form drone jams on their earliest recordings to the more angular song structures and tropical psych surrealness of their 2019 full-length Good Boy. Mint Chip continues the band's evolution of sound, expanding the arrangements and upping production values, yet holding on tightly to the spirit of unpredictability that's guided all of their phases. Opening track "Flamingo" is a clear signifier of how much more hi-fi Mint Chip is than anything KPT have produced before it. Twangy double-tracked guitars and Hadley's galloping percussion are joined by the low end of new-to-the-band bass guitar, and at the midway point the song erupts into staggered hiccups of distorted guitar leads and broken rhythmic phrasing. "In the Sand" is similar, taking spindly post-punk guitar leads and planting them firmly on a beach somewhere to writhe in the sunset. Hadley has played drums for both lo-fi garage psych ragers White Fence and Welsh polymath Cate Le Bon, and the influence of both seeps into Mint Chip. White Fence main man Tim Presley handles production duties throughout the album, but KPT also lean into the same kind of deranged patchwork of psychedelic sounds that White Fence excel at. "Smoke on the Milk, But My War" jams together Shaggs-level a-musicality with the tattered rendering of rural pop that Pavement or Smog explored on their earliest direct-to-cassette recordings, and "Y So K" is a beautiful ballad almost taken down by the weight of its own weirdness. Hadley's vocals have a similar deadpan delivery as Le Bon's, most noticeably on the itchy pop of unlikely earworm "Predicament." Appropriately titled highlight "The Hit" disguises itself as a relatively straightforward slice of jittery pop, but Kamikaze Palm Tree throw in unexpected disruptions at every turn, from blurts of noise or laughter to guitar solos that grow increasingly wobbly until they dissolve into a puddle of sound. At so many points throughout Mint Chip, it's really hard to tell if there's anyone steering the ship anymore, and that balance of madness and control provides the album's most exciting moments.

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