Unrefined punk exuberance
Palberta functions as a unit. While the band’s three members possess different life experiences and distinct musical skillsets, the trio has clearly developed a shared consciousness. This is, of course, not meant to be a slight to Palberta; their ability to operate as one incredibly agile and unabashedly punk musical entity is actually one of the most impressive aspects of their newest full-length release, Palberta5000. While the album is not perfect, the band’s commitment to their own distinctly volatile vision for indie punk, technical expertise (both vocal and instrumental and mathy rhythmic tendencies make Palberta5000 quite entertaining.
Despite the album’s generally consistent quality, it does take a couple songs to start pumping on all cylinders. Opener “No Way” is a nice introduction to Palberta’s obsession with rough edges and harmonization, and “Big Bad Want” is a bit of a drag. It shares instrumental similarities with the many vignette-like shorter tracks on the album, but at almost four minutes, it overstays its welcome. On “Never to Go” and “The Cow,” Palberta reveals the depths of their creativity. The band uses instrumentation to punctuate the trio’s vocal harmonies and quirky delivery while managing to pack all this style into individually satisfying musical chunks of less than two minutes. Frenetic cut “Fragile Place” is one of a select few tracks on Palberta5000 that successfully executes on this template at a longer track length.
The middle third of the project is made up primarily of these spirited punk vignettes. Standouts include “Hey !,” a masterclass in instrumental momentum and proper cowbell usage, “Red Antz” is another example of the band’s distinct ability to both punctuate gaps and cushion vocal lines with careful guitar and drum work and “Eggs n’ Bac’,” a fairly mathy and heart-pumping cut, accelerates to the finish line in a blaze of syncopated glory. Unfortunately, the final third of this album represents a bit of a stumble to the finish line for Palberta. “Corner Store” taps into a nakedly emotional immediacy that hasn’t been particular prevalent up to this point in the project, while “Something in the Way” sounds like an American Football B-side gone wrong and closer, “Before I Got Here,” feels like a slightly more tongue-in-cheek variation on tracks that already exist elsewhere on this album (aside from the fun time signature malleability).
Palberta is on point both instrumentally and vocally for essentially the entirety of Palberta5000. The weaknesses of this project lie in the songwriting—simply put, the band isn’t always successful at converting a few measures worth of genuine technical genius into a compelling song of worthwhile length. The talent that Palberta possesses is undeniable; at this point in their career, the quality of the album that follows Palberta5000 will depend on Palberta’s ability to exercise caution and carefully consider where weaknesses exist in their songwriting.