Tongue in Cheek
So whence the title, Palma Violets? Are you trying to say that your fusion of contemporary alt-rock, garage punk and Blue Cheer-style fuzz is a threat to the repetitive electronica frequently played in discotheques? Or warning against the drawbacks of a tribalist mindset? Perhaps it’s a clever metaphor about a rogue toothpick hidden in the layers of a tasty sandwich? The playful ambiguity is certainly intriguing, and you can’t say Palma Violets don’t know how to have and/or poke fun.
De facto opener “Hollywood (I Got It)” hastily trundles and jerks past the listener like an overcrowded gypsy wagon, echoing of The Stooges’ glory days save for a critical touch of studio fidelity. When vocalist/guitarist Samuel Fyer shouts “I can go anywhere, I can do anything,” it’s hard to tell if it’s a case of Iggy Pop-esque, substance-induced, hyperbolic boasting, or some form of more innocent jubilance. Then descends the power pop coda sing-along clappy part from out of nowhere, leaving listeners to wonder exactly how thinly the Violets’ punk influences are diluted amidst the overwhelming atmosphere of pop indulgence as the track disappears over the horizon.
Palma Violets draw on the same influences as fellow Brits The Rascals and Arctic Monkeys, and share a similar appeal. Danger In The Club and Your Favorite Worst Nightmare exude post-punk discontent and defeatist aggression without ever trying to sound macho – right up until their respective catchy choruses about dance floors and adolescent romance swoop in. But before the Hammond organs show up to the party and turn everything all metropolitan all of a sudden, “Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better (On The Beach)” would have sounded at home on an Oi! streetpunk record. The turns are always so sudden. The title track of Danger In The Club is raw and raunchy right up until it tumbles into a flowery field of gang vocals and sunny chords.
For fans of the music they’ve chosen to rip off, granting the benefit of the doubt to artists who knowingly commercialize abrasive rock ‘n’ roll subgenres can be…difficult. But Palma Violets does just that with their tongues planted so firmly in their collective cheeks that it’s hard to get all salty and self-righteous, like a real punk fan should when confronted with the rock candy that is “Secrets of America.” “Walking Home” emulates the long-stepping swagger of “Jimmy Jazz” from London Calling, complete with swingin’ toms and subdued reggae rhythms – along with a barroom doo-wop reprise. Palma Violets’ Rough Trade alternative rock heritage finally comes out to play in the melancholy minor chords and “I would rather die” chants of “Coming Over To My Place,” as well as “The Jacket Song,” a listing acoustic ballad in the vein of “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” that would have Morrissey sneering in appreciation and poorly disguised flattery.