I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “sun-damaged American music” is a pretty apt description of the sound Palm Ghosts make. At once vague and accurate, a description which doesn’t really tell you much going in but which in hindsight is the perfect summation, and Wide Awake and Waiting is another chapter in their sun-bleached sonic story.
Typically dreamy in its delivery it is built from hazy vocals, wistful and reflective lyrics and chiming guitar lines all layered upon straight to the point rhythms and backbeats, proving, as is usually the case, it’s all about building modest musical platforms and then dressing them up with the deftest of sonic trappings. It’s easy to draw lines back towards early 80’s underground sounds, and largely British ones at that. Labels such as 4AD, Rough Trade and Creation spring to mind, as do any number of post-punk bands who lurked on the periphery of the nascent shoe gaze scene. I’m sure there are US equivalents I should be name checking too at this point but sadly I’m not that well travelled and have to stick to reference points which once passed up and down the M4 corridor on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean..
But whilst Palm Ghosts shimmering and elegant sound obviously tugs at more than a few nostalgic heart strings, it also sits very comfortably in the present. Not only does everything move in cycles, with the wave of revivals and reunions going on Palm Ghosts are perfectly poised to pick up a new, younger audience as well as those with the complete Cocteau Twins vinyl back catalogue in their record collections.
In recent years pop has become a clinical, cold and bombastic genre, all about the fast buck and the throwaway song, made cheap and piled high. It is time that pop offered something more, perhaps a more considered, more chilled, smoothed out and drifting sound. Something which appeals to the discerning tastes and the chart viewing pop-picker. And when people realise just what a fantastic alternative to the music industry templates and production line TV show marionettes such dreamscapers and semi-lucid pop fashioners are, Palm Ghost could find themselves on the front line of a whole new pop war. Lock and load, we’re going in….