Thursday, February 25, 2021

Album Review: Palberta - Palberta5000

*** out of *****

The New York based Palberta's eighth release is powerfully titled Palbert5000 and it expands the bands sound by moving slightly from short punchy numbers to increasing the pop sweetness. While the new elongated efforts hit a few road bumps, the group do an intriguing job of popping up their sound while maintaining the off kilter post punk of previous efforts.  

The trio of Nina Ryser, Anina Ivry-Block and Lily Konigsberg deftly switch instruments (bass, drums, guitar) and vocalize gloriously. The pristine singing, at times perfectly locked in, at others jagged on purpose, is consistently wonderful throughout. With this album the band mentioned wanting to dive fully into their love of pop music and the production is fantastic with each instrument ringing clear.     

Brief songs (which the band specializes in) like the opening "No Way", the upbeat shout along exhilaration of "Hey !" the weird odd ball "Eggs n' Bac'" and the excellent angular "Never to Go" are all winners. Each track instantly feels vital with dance rhythms and quirky riffs, diving in and driving out of the sound. It is when the band tries to stretch their formula out where weaker results occur. 

Both "Big Bad Want" and "Fragile Place" are examples of knockout original ideas that are pushed beyond two minutes and they just go nowhere. "Big Bad Want" is a bass driven get down post punk arrow strike, but repeats it's vocals ad nauseam and never moves off it's one thought; it makes the 3:44 run time feel like an eternity. "Fragile Place" starts out stunningly with twitchy, funky, rising sounds around a marching drum and pristine vocals, but never arrives at anywhere exciting. If both were paired down they would be highlights. 

A major plus however is that the band always seems to be having fun, whether it is throwing every sort of instrumentation into "In Again" or smiling through the best track on the record "Summer Sun" the energy is infectious and rescues a one note offering like "Corner Store", rising it up to an almost pop punk anthem level. 

The record wraps up with two longer dance laden grooves that recall Sleater-Kinney's newest pop move The Center Won't Hold as "All Over My Face" and "Before I Got Here" as both blissfully bop and bounce their way with shoulder shaking feeling. Both are fine examples of the bands newer sound yet neither possess that extra injection to really zing forward. 

There are moments on Palberta5000 where the band can seem like a modern day re-imagining of The Raincoats for a new millennium raised on glossy pop of the modern digital age and while Palberta are clearly enjoying themselves, the record never truly locks in full to post-punk or pop with bright moments but lacking an overall cohesion.    
Support the band, buy the album on bandcamp, stream it below and peep some video:

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