Wednesday, 14 December 2011

muscles of joy @ oran mor, 27th november

Having separated from Divorce, it seems Palms have full custody of singer Sinead, and anyone only familiar with the caterwauling dervish schtick she deployed in the former may be surprised by the latter act’s restraint. Atonal guitars hint at Pod-period Breeders, but there’s a coarser edge, marking the trio out as an exciting prospect that we look forward to watching flourish.

If Palms’ potential comes from their confident execution of familiar stylistic cues, Muscles of Joy’s magnetism originates in something near-wholly idiosyncratic. The seven-strong collective open their album launch with avant-garde oddity Swan Shape, its theatrical gaggle of woops, giggles and cymbal splashes intimating something deeper than the average pop ditty, even if its abstruseness denies easy understanding.

While the remainder of the set is comparatively straightforward – as straightforward as phonetically sung Venezuelan folk songs and multi-part a-cappella can be – they remain consistently captivating, the music’s improvisational origins evident in the organic momentum with which tracks layer vocals and diverse instrumentation into beguiling wholes. But the temptation to go full-pseud in their presence is tempered by their clear sense of fun; their music engages the brain, but that doesn’t mean the heart can’t get involved as well.

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