PALACES is a Detroit-area quartet creating indelibly melodic synth-rock. While you can sense a few nostalgic ghosts of 80’s new-wave in the tones and arrangements, their new album (and the last five years’ worth of their previous output) manages not to feel like a revival or a retread. Take their stand-out single “The Cover of Night” from their new self-titled album, out this week: Propulsive drums and arcing bass lines launch the listener into effervescent, jangly guitars, interwoven with a simple synth phrase through the verses. That same synth then coils into a more complex and expressive line that threads under a catchy chorus that asks “…how can we dance so long…?” …and “when can we dance again…?”
On the album, this track transitions seamlessly (and fittingly) into a song called “Dancers,” a disarmingly more downbeat tune in which the synths become a more ambient atmospheric element that dreamily drones a vibrato around the spacey guitars and harmonized chorus. Just when you feel you have this song pegged, the bass revs up, the drums accelerate and the guitars hit the afterburners as the chorus becomes a 30-second fit of cavorting catharsis. All the while, the synth element is careful to stay restrained and keep that haunting melody drifting around the peripheries during the more danceable chorus.
Each song finds the quartet exploring new ways to craft a captivating new hook to the indie-pop structure, but you can always anticipate their riffy guitars and celestial synth finding creative ways to ribbon around each other. Their album conjures faint hints of classic synth-pop, but there’s something more aerobic to their tempos, something more urgent to their time signatures, something more aggressive, or at least not mellow, to their timbre and performance. Basically, if you wanted a modern-sounding bridge between something like Psychedelic Furs of the ’80s and Luna of the ’90s, you can find it in Detroit’s PALACES.
They have some slower, woozier, night-cap kinda songs, too — odes for the more pensive partygoers who hang back and contemplate the deeper meanings of the mirth, rambunctiousness, heartbreak, or unbridled release that they may witness at an average rock show. But songs like “Wild Emotions” can hit a jogging pace, and things build and swell into something that is undeniably…well, call it what you will, rock n’ ‘roll, indie-punk, new new wave? “I can’t explain…” as the lyrics go…, “and I can’t fake it: these wild emotions…”
Saturday, February 9 — 8 pm
UFO Factory — $7