Soundchecks Music Reviews

Until Spring by Wild Palms

One Little Indian

Wild Palms

review by Andrew Darlington

A quick Google for 'Wild Palms' gets you the 1993 Oliver Stone TV mini-series, then the weird DVD movie-edit with Angie Dickinson and James Belushi. Whether the same-name Southgate four-piece is about to reverse that priority pretty much depends on this strong debut album. In truth, in a time not notably kind to young guitar bands, little genuine game-changing takes place, but there's effective trad-indie ingredients from Smiths' rippling janglipop to My Bloody Valentine guitar-distortion ascending into widescreen art-angst.

The first-come single establishes its lit-credentials by neatly lifting its title from Virginia Woolf's modernist novel To The Lighthouse, but comes illuminated by an impressively moody no-budget video. Lou Hill's anguished vocals soar to near-falsetto heights nailed by James Parish's resonant drum-pulse. But there's no weak link, Gareth Jones adds bass and production-sculpture to Darrel Hawkins fluently daring guitar lines, as the hidden surly instrumental track following Not Wing Clippers shows.

The effects-storm book-ending The Caretaker is ferociously impressive, with incongruous electronics spluttering like rabies over jagged Bo Diddley percussion. The 'Caretaker', incidentally, is a lover who takes care; in the hope his care will be reciprocated. LHC slow-builds to a sublime crescendo, Pale Fire goes darkly brooding before igniting phosphorescence like swirling fizzing kaleidoscope shards into a subdued false ending.

Some claim elements of The Cure or The Bunnymen in here - and there's epic Ian McCulluch grandeur and atmosphere to Carnations with its 35-second long fade-in and stuttering drum-patterns, but there's also the anthemic melody-rush tinsel of, say, James too. And, restless to advance the post-album soundscape, they've already added a second guitarist in the shape of Bobby Krilic. Check their Google ratings for future developments.

Edited by Tony Lee
for PIGASUS Press