The double-disc Palais might seem a bit sprawling at first, but rather like Nellie McKay's Get Away from Me or Wilco's Being There, these two discs actually clock in under 80 minutes; they could have gone on a single CD, but by being split over two roughly 35-minute discs, they actually come off a lot better. The Figgs' brand of power pop was made for the 7" single, or failing that, for the LP side. The admirably diverse Palais takes on the sound of a well-constructed double album; the band even divides the album into four sides in the liner notes, and three different versions of a sort of theme song at the beginning, middle, and end increase the effect. It works well, giving the album an overall shape that allows the group to stretch out into styles a bit removed from its usual brash guitar pop, like the synth-based atmospherics of "Attack VCA" and the Elvis Costello-like new wave nerviness of "Your Only Hope." As always, the album's songwriting is about evenly split between singer/songwriters Pete Donnelly and Mike Gent, with drummer Pete Hayes throwing in the rocking "We'll Be Doing Time" (which, probably coincidentally, seems to be based on the riff from Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You") for the George Harrison slot. All concerned come out well, although Donnelly's tunes are just a hair more immediately appealing than Gent's. Overall, though, Palais is probably the best Figgs album to date.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2