Palace – So Long Forever

Space is the place.

Palace - So Long ForeverLabel: Fiction
Released: November 4th 2016
Rating: ★★★

Space. A word that runs through Palace’s debut album like a stick of moody arena-sized indie rock. There’s the space you can hear in their arrangements. Or there’s a literal space – the former munitions factory in Tottenham they adopted for rehearsals. And there’s the gap between 2014’s well-received ‘Lost in the Night’ EP, followed more than a year ago with another, ‘Chase the Light’, and now. The results suggest it was time well spent, though, and ‘So Long Forever”s 11 tracks sound precision-tooled for Great Things.

As you’d expect from a band on a label best known for The Cure, there’s a gloomy air around right from the tensely thudding drum and keening guitar heralding ‘Break The Silence’. But the relentless momentum of Will Dorey’s nimble, melodic bass keeps despair, and anger, at bay – (“Cheated all that’s loved you, broken hearts, you’re rumbled”) – until the cleansing cascade of Rupert Turner’s guitar.

‘Bitter’, a survivor from the first EP, is similarly downbeat, as frontman Leo Wyndham asks “Why am I bitter?/Why am I always led astray?”, but there’s a bright, soulful snap to the instruments, along with the hint of hope in Wyndham’s voice, borne out by the regret-free ‘Live Well’. This sparring between desperation and redemption carries on, from ‘It’s Over”s bluesy take on Radiohead circa ‘Pablo Honey’ to the graceful, slide guitar washes of ‘Family’.

There’s an intricacy and thoughtful delicacy on display in Palace’s music – the tumbling guitar parts of the title track, or the standout ‘Blackheath”s ornate, stately build and glorious release. Pity, then, that it’s often drenched in reverb, an artificial size the songs rarely need, nearly swamping ‘Have Faith’ and leaving ‘Slaving On’ a little soupy. But their musicianship and Wyndham’s appealingly yearning delivery shine through; big spaces surely beckon. Rob Mesure