Wild Palms are a London-based four-piece formerly known as Ex-Lion Tamers. Debut album Until Spring brings a now familiar blend of asymmetrical haircuts and somewhat more orthodox post-punk tunes to the indie-rock landscape.
Although the tom-heavy rhythms and effeminate vocals hint at cultured urbanism a la Wild Beasts, further inspection reveals a somewhat more ordinary post-punk, more akin to peers such as Chapel Club. Lou Hill’s voice is a continual point of interest however. Estranging and yearning but nearly always engaging.
But Wild Palms seem caught in an almost existential funk. Between tunes and trends, a longing for edginess is contradicted by the chorus of the opening Draw In Light which would suggest that they’re really happier aiming for the poppier territory where the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club roam.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the more accessible side of indie rock and much great music has been made when the commercial concern meets the artistic but after a few spins of the album it’s hard not to feel that Wild Palms are in some kind of no man’s land. Perhaps the production is to blame; never managing either the crunch and bite to explore their darker inclinations, nor the pop sheen to bring the most out of the bigger tunes such as Delight In Temptation – which is really quite pretty at times.
To its credit the record seems to grow in intensity in the second half; Swirling Shards is the most effective three minutes of the whole; concise, catchy and musically a little more daring than what surrounds it, albeit still stuck in mid-pace. The (Never-ceasing-ever-increasing) Cavalcade, meanwhile overcomes the most ludicrous of titles to evoke a less beat-orientated These New Puritans.
Ultimately Until Spring just suffers from falling short in execution of idea. There’s the sense that Wild Palms are a band who desperately want to create their own world but Until Spring never quite manages to draw you fully into its bubble.