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Norman Palm - Shore To Shore

Norman Palm, Shore To Shore

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

NORMAN Palm first made a name for himself when his very first single and video paid tribute to ’80s classics Boys Don’t Cry and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by contrasting masculinity in contemporary advertisement and historical propaganda while dropping in YouTube teenagers performing Cindy Lauper in their parents suburban bedrooms.

Having acquired a taste for pop, the art school graduate decided to experiment with the medium further culminating in debut album, Shore To Shore.

The result is pretty damn amazing. Self-produced with Janne Lounatvuori, the album began life when Palm pre-recorded sketches of his songs with a laptop and acoustic guitars.

Then, with Lounatvuori, the duo layered in the sounds, playing all the instruments they could find in a small Berlin studio run by ex-pat Finns.

The ensuing collection of songs subverts pop expectation but remains mainstream accessible in a way that’s reminiscent of Beck, Wilco or The Beta Band. No two songs sound the same, or conform even to the same genre. But most dazzle in some way.

The standard is set from the start with opening track Start/Stop benefiting from the presence of The Whitest Boy Alive’s Daniel Nentwig on Rhodes and backing vocals, finger-click beats and indie meets electronica instrumental shifts (as well as ukele and choirs thrown into the mix). It’s effortlessly catchy, yet intricately plotted.

Smile then completely disarms with its American indie values and a drop-dead cute chorus that declares “I wanna see you naked, I wanna see you smile”. It’s a summer-time anthem in waiting and the sort of record that effortlessly puts a smile on the face.

On Images there’s a dreamy psychedelic feel to the vocals which perfectly compliment the electronic backdrop and lush arrangements (the chorus, again, is utterly disarming), while the spirit of Beck is evident on the space-rock vibe that accompanies Landslide – another of the album’s instant highlights.

Laidback acoustics give way to kraut-rock tendencies on the epic $20, which begins stripped back and very slow before dropping in a pulsating synth loop that lends proceedings a magnificent charge.

Kooky indie pop values permeate WDYD?, the sort of song that could drift simply onto the soundtrack of an indie film soundtrack such as Juno, Easy layers bass and synths in a nod to Mogwai’s epic cinematic values while dropping in laidback vocals, and Phantom Lover introduces a melancholy lament on an ex-love that begins stripped down and broken before drawing on African vs technoid vibes.

Go To Sleep, meanwhile, ushers the album to a close in suitably mellow fashion… combining woozy acoustics with another serene vocal that eases you into a relaxed state of mind. It’s the perfect wind down finale.

Trust us, you’ll want to check this out at the earliest opportunity!

Read our interview with Norman Palm

Download picks: Start/Stop, Smile, Landslide, $20, Easy, Go To Sleep

Listen to Easy:

Norman Palm – Easy by cityslang

Track listing:

  1. Start/Stop
  2. Smile
  3. Images
  4. Landslide
  5. $20
  6. WDYD?
  7. Easy
  8. Sleeper
  9. Phantom Lover
  10. Go To Sleep