Palomar

Palomar III: Revenge of Palomar

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Palomar III: Revenge of Palomar, the third album by Brooklyn-based indie-popsters Palomar, continues the winning streak set by their first two albums. Singer/songwriter Rachel Warren's girl-next-door vocals manage the difficult task of being artless without being amateurish, and cute without being precious and cutesy. Similarly, the quartet's stroppy guitar pop is an unapologetic throwback to the mid-'90s glory days of Teenbeat and Merge, when mixed-gender pop bands made albums informed by the D.I.Y. spirit of hardcore punk but were primarily influenced by legions of obscure U.K. indie bands of the '70s and '80s. The songs on Palomar III: Revenge of Palomar are catchy enough, but in an almost subliminal way, as if the group wouldn't be caught dead slipping in a power pop-style key change or rhythm guitar riff; this puts most of the onus on Warren's vocals and lyrics, both of which manage to keep the listener's attention through most of the album, especially on the sharp-tongued "Work Is a State Function" (the chorus of which recalls some of Paul Weller's more anthemic songs from the Jam's prime era), and the deliberately goofy faux-funk "You Dance Bad." Unfortunately, as was also the case with those Merge and Teenbeat bands, the songs' arrangements and production throughout the album are so similar to one another that listening fatigue starts to set in during the last half, until the ghostly, piano-based ballad "Brick and the Skipper" creeps in to close the album on a suitably downcast note.

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