Review: Palehound – Black Friday

” And I’ve won over your mother, darling
And I’ve won over your sister, too
And I won over your father, darling
And I still don’t feel worthy of you “
– Palehound, ‘Worthy

You don’t need distortion to be loud. You don’t need to scream to call for attention. You don’t need to physically attack someone to leave a bruise. Sometimes, it’s all in words, wrapped in gentle strums.

Palehound’s Black Friday leaves a mark. An emotional scar that reopens when you listen through the speakers the many fears and afflictions that still pulse through your brain. It’s not a confessional, it’s a mirror.

You can lose yourself in a vortex created by ‘Worthy’ and ‘Killer’, two of the strongest tracks in Black Friday. The acidic melancholy of ‘Worthy’ dissolves any emotional defences you’ve foolishly tried to set up. Body image is an issue that is still not widely discussed and the brutal honesty in the song will leave you reflecting. Do you see yourself in the mirror and recognise the person there, with a confused face? It’s probably the song that resonates the most with me.

‘Killer’ is a reverb heavy track, a mix of The Volebeats and Jenny Lewis. That beeping keyboard riding into the sunset in the chorus makes it more poignant, as the track touches on gender violence, a topic that shouldn’t be shied away from. I wish this wasn’t an obvious statement, but it sadly has to be made again and again and again…

Still, there’s a soothing aftertaste. The dream-like, wistful vocals of Ellen Kempner convey relief, a welcome ointment on the many wounds that we carry inside us. Whereas Speedy Ortiz would come and try to arrange the mess in our heads, Palehound refurbishes damaged souls. Just listen to ‘Aaron’ for something truly beautiful.

Having seen Palehound in a tiny house in Austin back in 2014, I think Black Friday finally manages to capture the full palette of the band’s emotional intensity. This is not an attack on the marvelous Dry Food or the devastating A Place I’ll always go, this is an endorsemente of the feat pulled by Black Friday: a whispered punch through your very core.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

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