Palma Violets’ 180 is a passionately performed and perfectly recorded debut, and it could certainly be a merited contribution to any indie addict’s collection. But unfortunately in places Palma Violets seem to trip over their own standards, which are initially set promisingly high. While this certainly won’t detract from the general enjoyment of this release it might leave you unfulfilled on account of its few, but unignorable deficiencies.
There is no doubting the zeal and ability manifested in Chilli Jesson’s lead vocal, which seizes the atmosphere and carries much of the weight of each song’s appeal. Tracks such as Best of Friends, Rattle Snake Highway, and Johnny Bagga’ Donuts are dramatically augmented by his boisterously British and dynamic vocal. However, the execution of his voice always outshines the lyrics, which takes emphasis away from how perceivably shallow and anaemic they can often be.
Songs that subtract that dramatic and infectious energy quickly expose their lyrical vulnerability. Last of the Summer Wine, though a beautiful composition from start to finish, fails to veil such a manufactured pop worthy chorus of “over and over again, over and over again, over and over again, I’m going, I’m going, I’m going again, oh my days, fade all the way”. 180 generally suffers from a lack of eloquent or profound lyricism, and as a result their songs lose any perceivable meaning in which to indulge.
For the most part their songs are engaging on account of their striking performance and could generally be considered solid pop songs, incorporating quirky organ chimes, colourful and brightly toned guitar work and A-grade vocal contributions. It’s easy to picture Palma Violets being a beast of a live band. But in 180 the guitar solos appear uninspired, the songs generally lack any memorable riffage and the catchy melodies are either fleeting or overused, mostly demonstrated in 14, a song that doesn’t share the same mark of quality introduced by songs like Best of Friends.
It’s annoying that these lesser attributes grate with their likeability, obvious appeal and musical talent. Their own high standards should be transferable and run consistently throughout the entire album and through every song, but unfortunately these hindrances appear far too often and prevent the album from being a more wholesome listen.
On the contrary, their attractively light hearted approach makes 180 an accessible experience that is bound to please those looking to enjoy the fruits of a high spirited and fresh young band. For the most part, this buoyant and fun loving attitude keeps their songs afloat and tracks such as Step Up For the Cool Cats propel the album’s momentum right through to We Found Love, which is unfortunately where it ends, leaving the last two tracks flaccid in the album’s wake. The albums ends on lyrics such as “radio friendly, radio friendly, radio friendly, radio friendly…” summing up 180 and Palma Violets quite nicely.
Review by Guy Hirst