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WILD PALMS – Until Spring (One Little Indian)

Wild Palms were an unknown quantity to me until a brief piece in the NME inspired me to look up their myspace page and sample their wares. I was presented with a couple of good indie-pop songs which had enough quirkiness about them to ensure that I kept an eye peeled for the debut album. Well, here it is, and my high hopes for it have not been let down, although I have heard talk of fans of the band’s first single of a couple of years ago being disappointed that the rough edges of their sound have been smoothed out. ‘Over Time’ and its follow-up ‘Dive Deep’ certainly had their moments, and the spikey guitar and raw production resulted in a couple of fine little indie rockers, but the band have moved on and obviously wanted a fuller production for the album. ‘Draw In Light’ starts things off with some buzz-saw guitars and a catchy melody, and it sounds good enough to me, with it quickly being followed by ‘Caretaker’, which is another song swamped in reverbed guitar and given a dense production. ‘Delight In Temptation’ is one of those songs I heard on myspace, and it says a lot that even though I only heard it a few times I recognised it as soon as it started. The song itself is an anthemic rocker, with Lou Hill giving it his all on the vocals, and it remains one of their best songs. ‘Pale Fire’ is an emotional ballad, while ‘LHC’ is an acoustic piece on piano and strings, with Hill employing an intimate vocal style, which seems to work quite well on this track, as on some of the faster songs his voice can come over as a little bit bland and expressionless. ‘Carnations’ is apparently the closest the band get to what they sounded like two years ago, and while it does give Darrell Hawkins guitar a freer rein than on some earlier tracks, the overall sound is very much early 80’s Factory, and so does sound a tad dated. ‘The (Never-Ceasing Ever-Increasing) Cavalcade’ doesn’t quite live up to its intriguing title, but is an atmospheric indie rocker, and by mixing Hill’s voice way back it gives the whole song an eerie feel. ‘To The Light House’ is another stand-out track, with Hill employing a falsetto for the chorus, and the band doing their best Cocteau Twins impression – all swirling guitars drenched in echo. Things wind down with the moody pop of ‘Not Wing Clippers’ and then after a short pause an untitled hidden track closes down the album. This is one of those records that takes a few listens to really appreciate, and while you can hear straight away that it isn’t a total clunker, the first listen might well leave you less than impressed. Give it a few more spins and you find certain songs begin to shine, meaning it may eventually end up being a frequent visitor to the turntable.