Article by KevW
Originally released in their native US last year, Palehound's debut album gets its UK release this week through the excellent Heavenly Recordings. Essentially the vehicle for Ellen Kempner (who plays everything apart from drums on the record), Palehound have already received critical acclaim for previous tracks and have toured with pretty extensively, so at relatively young age of 21, things are really beginning to take off. The release of a debut full-length is often the stage where we find out if a band can really cut it though.
In some ways, opener 'Molly' is a false dawn, diving into view with a scuzzy, looping riff and sounding not unlike the work of Tanya Donelly or Kim Deal. It's a high energy burst of '90s-flavoured alt-rock that's really quite invigorating. While the rest of 'Dry Food' doesn't switch its influences particularly, it is much more sedate. Fellow single 'Healthier Folk' feels a little more light-headed and drops the tempo while still containing raw and gritty guitars and an almost slacker vibe. The pace doesn't really pick up to previous levels for the remainder of the album, but the standard of the songs remains high.
'Easy' is fittingly-named and slows things down further to a gentle buzz with some spiky guitar and frazzled effects. The bubbly 'Cinnamon' introduces a psych-pop twang that, although not exactly a curveball, does take you a by surprise a little but adds nice variation and stands up as something of a highlight. We find introspection on the sleepy but pretty title-track, and the delicacy and thoughtfulness continues into 'Dixie' which is most mellow of all. Tempo-wise, there is a trough at the album's mid-point, but it's still a nice place to be. 'Cushioned Caging' picks things up and is perhaps more of what you'd expect given the nature of the opening track, and again, this wouldn't have sounded out of place on, say, 'Last Splash'. There's an underlying '50s influence that occasionally pushes through, and probably never more so than on closer 'Sea Konk', another piece of dreamy fuzz-rock.
Palehound aren't making sounds that differ from everyone else, in fact the reference points for 'Dry Food' are fairly common in the alternative guitar world, but what this record does have is excellent writing, diversity and the knowledge to not overdo it. There's plenty here to get the taste buds tingling.
Buy: 'Dry Food'
The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook