Agent Orange

Virtually Indestructible

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After nearly a decade away from recording studios, interspersed by semi-regular live shows and lineup changes, Palm finally got his act fully back together, formalized a new trio, and self-released Virtually, the band's third full studio album in 15 years. Nothing really has changed at all over the moons, so anyone wanting to hear a radical reinvention of Palm's and the band's sound isn't going to find it -- Living in Darkness remains the lodestone of his following work. But allowing for that, Virtually rocks with a capital R; within the boundaries of Agent Orange's basic sound, Palm and company don't let up for a second. Opening track "This Is All I Need" is actually probably Palm's best song since "Bloodstains," ripping to life with a massive crunch and propulsive beat while he sings a fiery praise of music's energy and cleansing feeling. As a pace-setter for the album, it couldn't be more perfect, and the rest of Virtually follows suit in one way or another, with the odd diversion along the way, like the winningly sung semi-jangle-pop number "Broken Dreams." Sometimes Palm steps away from the restrained vocal power which always made Agent Orange cool for a more sneering (and therefore less distinct) approach, almost as if he's trying to chase down the younger moshpit denizens who followed in his footsteps. Happily, this doesn't cause the album any real harm, while when it comes to guitar he's still got the power of old. New rhythm section members Sam Bolle on bass and Charles Quintana on drums do fine enough jobs filling in for the long-gone Levesque and Miller, but this is still Palm's show all the way in the end, and he's got more than enough going for him still.

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