By Kieran Bowie
Ordinarily, when listening to an album you’ve already heard at least a couple of the singles from it, however for myself and many other listeners So Long Forever will be the first introduction to Palace and their sound. Although Palace have released a number of singles from So Long Forever already, they’ve never quite managed to make it into the mainstream, meaning So Long Forever works as an introduction to something completely new.
The fact that So Long Forever has been released in 2016, four years after the four-piece band formed in London, shows the band have spent their time building towards this album, gaining experience from the live circuit, rather than rushing into the studio. Palace seem to have benefited from this approach, as So Long Forever feels like a breath of fresh air in what can sometimes feel a stagnated section of the alt-rock genre. Such a highly polished record positions the band well for a long and successful future in the industry, and we couldn’t be happier.
The album opens on the track Break The Silence, where it’s strength clearly lies in it’s interlocking dual guitar sections. In the verses, the lead guitar is used sparingly whilst the rhythm guitar keeps the riff going underneath. This creates a great atmosphere and contrasts brilliantly with the choruses which are given a much fuller feel when the lead guitar is reintroduced. This contrast between sparse verses and full choruses continues as a theme throughout So Long Forever, with It’s Over providing another example of their expertly used contrasting sounds, showing the band’s ability to create a diverse mix of songs while maintaining a constant theme. In the sections that build up to the chorus, the bass, in combination with brilliantly syncopated drums build a tension particularly satisfying, especially in uplifting chorus segments.
Bitter and Live Well are two examples where Palace drift away from their standard 4/4 time signatures, a staple song structure for alt rock bands, and trade it for uncommon and lesser used structures. It’s good to see a band be willing to push the boundaries and experiment especially when it pays off as is the case of So Long Forever.
The London band clearly have a wide range of influences, with a sound reminiscent of Foals’ early work, whilst the intro to Live Well is very Jeff Buckley-esque. Despite the clear influence acts like these have had on Palace’s sound, the band maintain an original sound which will help them put their own stamp on 2016, a year that has seen a number of other runaway successes in the alt rock movement such as All Tvvins and Blossoms.
Initial reaction to the album has been good, with So Long Forever as high as 8th on iTunes’ alternative album chart within the first day of its release. It certainly looks as if Palace will be joining a host of household names in the coming months and years, both on the touring circuit and on the album charts.