Released: 21st January 2022
In the market for an album that feels akin to a cosy blanket in the bleak mid-winter? Look no further – Palace’s latest, ‘Shoals’ is here. It might seem paradoxical to suggest that the album offers that sort of relieving comfort, considering much of it meditates on different forms of fear and anxiety. Yet, ‘Shoals’ washes over you like a wave of calm. Perhaps it’s the validating way Palace write about their fears or the soothing sonic layers of each individual track – either way, ‘Shoals’ manages to offer consolation and tranquillity from beginning to end.
Each guitar line bubbles with undiluted emotion, and their vocals remain as hazily gossamer-like as ever. On ‘Killer Whale’, they lean into bittersweet romanticism, with gentle percussion and intricate guitar patterns. It’s rife with the delicacy that is innate to everything Palace release; whether in the tenderness with which they sing, the vulnerable compassion of the lyrics themselves or the deeply thought-out arrangements to which both are set, it’s daintily co-ordinated. On ‘Shoals’ especially, it feels as though Palace have put this together with the steady hands and fine attention to detail of an artist making the final, work-changing touches.
Fear is natural, and part of the everyday, and still it’s something we shy away from. For Palace, embracing that fear in all its many forms and investigating it allows them to completely change their relationship with it. All that existentialism, anxiety and distress can be valuable, so it seems. The validation that their introspection offers as a listener is at once full of warmth and coolly refreshing. Their previous releases have of course been stellar, but on ‘Shoals’, there is an impressive weight and profoundness to each track that Palace haven’t quite captured before.