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Palace: Indie Pop Royalty

"Life After" sees the indie stalwarts take the throne.

By Alexis Renaudat | Video of the Day | July 15, 2019

Sunlight, marble columns and arches disappearing into the clouds. That’s what a palace built for the three princes of indie-pop, Leo Wyndham, Rupert Turner and Matt Hodges would look like.

When you hear their music, you might figure U2’s entire discography was recorded in a broom closet – there’s that much space and ambition on the 11 tracks of Life After, the latest album by the London trio. The presence of the producer Catherine Marks (St Vincent, Wolf Alice, PJ Harvey) highlights an increasingly wide and cinematic vision, not only in terms of soundstage but arrangements as well: this is stadium rock at its core, meant to be played in large spaces and sung by giant crowds.

Which doesn’t mean Palace don’t narrow their focus when necessary, such as on Face In The Crowd, threaded by a lone acoustic guitar. Wyndham shows restraint on Caught My Breath as well; the purity of his voice is evocative of Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes). But any comparisons end there. The folk heros from Seattle have a habit of staying grounded, whereas Palace take every opportunity they can to spread their wings and go as high as they can, carried by lush atmospheric reverbs and resounding drums. No Others takes a hint from The War on Drugs, thanks to Rupert Turner’s lead guitar.

The album’s closer, Heaven Up There, is a masterclass in layered arrangements: from reversed guitars, instruments pile up in a hazy crescendo, like looking through a kaleidoscope on acid. Life After is a continuous climb, without any of the effort: it’s music at its apotheosis, and a band that’s reached their highest point yet. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz


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