Chris & Mollie

The Palm Tree

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    8
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Chris & Mollie's debut is a feverish affair, moving confidently from blown lo-fi psychedelia to moments of itchy twee transcendence. Don't let the name fool you: this duo is decidedly maximalist, imbuing the record with fuzzy studio embellishment, flute flutters, and swooning orchestral largesse. Indeed, in less capable hands, this would be an overstuffed and overeager record, but Christopher Donlon's work instead feels decidedly alive, sentient even. "Gravity," for example, starts with industrial crashes and eventually devolves into a dubby, heady bridge, but all within the context of what could only ever be described as a pure pop song. This variety of sonic textures and influences is implemented with grace and only in service of the album's greater emotional and narrative arc. Yes, that means this is a concept album -- something about failing to stay together for the kid -- but a decidedly cohesive and loose one, lacking the rigidity or jumpiness of many of its ilk. The Palm Tree succeeds on two levels, then, as both a tuneful and surprisingly funky indie pop record if heard in passing, and as a densely layered, emotionally wrought experience on headphones.

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