REVIEW: Palace – Lost in the Night (2014)

Nikki returns to give us the lowdown on an EP from some fresh indie upstarts. 

Of all the vague, twentysomething indie-somethings emerging from the more spritely parts of the London music scene, Palace seem like an curious upstart for bearing even the slightest artistic ambition beyond a propensity towards drenching guitars in reverb and hunched shoulders, and in today’s musical climate, this in itself makes them something of an oddity.

Lost in the Night is one of those rare EPs that does exactly what EPs are supposed to do; they plant a seed of near-wretched anticipation and giddy excitement in the listener’s mind that only grows to become increasingly alluring over time. Record companies accept them as the next best thing, as something to fill the void and satisfy the contract until a full album can be pieced together, but artists (and more invested listeners) know that the best EPs aren’t merely standing stones in these inter-album spaces but they warrant attention and cherishment in their own right, amply filling the time with their own ideas, themes and melodies, and flourish in the absence of larger, more distracting works.

It’s the fact that they feel so comparably throwaway that allows EPs to foster this much excitement, as though the band in question could hurl a thousand more songs of this quality at you without breaking a sweat, and that that only means that they are capable of surpassing these efforts at any moment.

That’s exactly what Lost in the Night feels like; a preface to an epic prose or the travel guide for a grand journey. Songs like “I Want What You Got” are fully-realised, compelling and accomplished pieces, but you know that the talent behind them are only barely flexing their muscles. It’s evident that Palace know exactly what captivates their audience and that they have no intention of labouring their output with the requisite sludge that a lot of modern indie-blues and folk is more than happy to endure – you won’t find any beleaguered outros, obligatory bridges or, vitally, achingly excessive reverb weighing down any of the songs here. The closing moments on lead track, “Bitter,” rejects the quiet, submissive ending for a jarring, compelling and teeth-grindingly refreshing third act jaunt, whilst “Veins” remains sufficiently tempestuous and endearing to keep you from reclining whilst also begging you to sink into its bluesy simplicity.

Everything sounds at once familiar and yet refreshingly clear – Palace aren’t treading new ground here musically, instead it feels as though they’re leading you down a path that you’ve walked a thousand times before, yet they manage to point out landmarks you’d never even noticed before; the cymbals sound unbearably crisp and the guitars ring with a purity and cleanliness that would seem foreign on the dusty folk-rock records that inspired this sound, but seem wholly at home here.

Moreover, the songs here are granted space and the relative sparseness of the compositions leave ample room for those laidback guitars to amble forward and for the rasping vocals to drag you from place to place, from personal trauma to existential quivering, and to flourish in that special space that EPs occupy – at once realised and incomplete.

You’re entitled to be extremely excited and apprehensive for Palace’s upcoming full-length release, but take solace in the fact that Lost in the Night has been written and made to withstand this anticipation and to reward your patience; better things are to come but your wait will be ably and beautifully soundtracked.

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