ALBUM REVIEW: Palm Reader – Sleepless

Release Date: November 27th 2020
Label: Church Road Records


After years of gaining a reputation as one of the leaders of the underground, Nottingham’s Palm Reader finally started getting the attention they’ve long sought after and deserved with 2018’s ‘Braille’.

Continuing to expand their sound and moving themselves towards grander visions, ‘Sleepless’ is another diverse offering to their catalogue and takes full advantage of all of the eyes watching their next move.

After swirling synths give way to vocalist Josh Mckeown‘s impassioned verses, lead single ‘Hold/Release’ introduces Palm Reader on an entirely different note. Evoking shades of dream pop and ambient metal, the track moves between lush textures and engulfing breakdowns as guitarists Andy Gillan and Sam Rondeau-Smith attack their fretboards in a more subtle manner.

Following up with ‘Stay Down’, juddering guitars and urgent melodies see Palm Reader look back at the technical hardcore foundation they laid firmly in their earlier work. Showing that they haven’t forgotten how to open up a pit, the track serves as a vicious and claustrophobic counterpart to its predecessor’s more anthemic qualities.

Unfurling another sonic layer, ‘Ending Cycle’ plays with clean vocals and spinning melodies whilst bassist Josh Redrup keeps a layer of grit to create a cohesive tone. The same can be said for ‘Willow’, a pensive and lyrically heavy track that serves an unexpected yet fitting window to the record’s new sound.

With a free approach to experimentation, Palm Reader reach their pinnacle with ‘A Bird And Its Feathers’. Terse and at times explosive, the track serves as the group’s few affectionate compositions. Twisting around melodies, burst of catharsis and punctuated by abrupt changes, the song inarguably serves as a highlight.

As ‘Sleepless’ plays through, the quintet benefit from a more expansive sound as tracks such as ‘False Thirst’ can attest. With tentative keyboards and a skittish beat, it works with nervous energy and hypnotic vocals to deliver a song that on one hand is intimate and beckoning, yet the crushing chorus states otherwise.

Closing with ‘Both Ends Of The Rope’, lingering melodies sits alongside rolling drums as Mckeown delivers a truly compelling vocal performance. Moving from lunging breakdowns and harmonically rich guitar solos, Palm Reader close their most confident record on a high note.

‘Sleepless’ is a bold and rewarding leap for Palm Reader. The quintet ensure that their hardcore roots and ability to create a punishing soundscape stay intact, only this time around they also exercise their melodic skills resulting in a fearless record.