Dependent on your outlook, if you’re a glass half full or half empty sort of person, you could read the title of Palace Winter’s third record …Keep Dreaming, Buddy one of two ways. Given the state of the world it’s being released into, the easiest response might be a negative, dismissive ‘yeah right’. But there’s a case for a more appropriate reading being a friendly, supportive ‘you can do it’ vibe.
It opens with Monument Eyes, a song that seems to be made specifically for that moment at the finale of every ’80s teen movie where the juvenile victors emerge numbly from a gnarly subterranean battle with some elemental or paternal malevolence, out into glorious late day sunshine that envelops them in a golden light, and they begin to hug in slow motion, shocked but jubilant. It’s a comforting but still slightly wobbly assertion of emotional camaraderie.
Album highlight Top Of The Hill, featuring critical darlings Lowly, is a song about a dejected soul making peace with his lot, enjoying a simple existence unfettered by external interference. Frontman Carl Coleman and his companion Caspar Hesselager, may sing “Make it up the hill, living on dust and pills, you’re on your own again” but the characters that populate these songs never feel defeated, they have one another. You can’t escape that cinematic, triumphant streak that courses through the record. On other tracks, they sing lines asking listeners “Show me how to fight” and “I’ll give everything I have to make a scene”. This is very much a record about reaching out to those you care about and facing threats together, regardless of how downtrodden your situation may appear to be.
Alongside the Danish pop stars, we also get cameos from dutch songstress Penny Police on the track Richard (Says Yes), about the band’s love of the late Richard and his boundless enthusiasm, and also more aptly Jason Lyttle, the creative genius behind Grandaddy on The Deeper End, where the narrator reminisces about his misfit youth and finding love amidst the ruins, risking everything to ensure a romantic future with a fellow outsider.
Listening to Palace Winter’s charming first couple of records, the influence of Lyttle and co is writ large across them, a wonky mixture of homemade electronics and mid ’70s Laurel Canyon folk balladry. For this record, they’ve time travelled forward a decade and squeezed in a dash of that Arctic sense of cool that runs through the peppier output of The Cardigans and Robyn. As the world faces an uncertain winter, they’re generously offering us the endless summer we should have had all along.