Electroscapes color the basis of this second release from Somerville, Massachusetts’ trio, Pale Hands; Graphism is only eight songs long but in those eight tracks is a lot of melody, pop hooks and a clean, streamlined sound. There’s also something very appealingly sweet about lead singer Jen Johnson’s voice; Popdose first introduced you to Pale Hands two years ago; they’ve now expanded (from Johnson and her husband, Mike Latulippe) to include their longtime collaborator, Nick Murphy and it does show a certain growth in their sound from the debut, Spirit Lines.
“Dress Casual” is a very good, uptempo way to kick off this collection – fast, fun, completely easy to embrace with the sound and overall feel; “Lower Than Low” reminds me (in a very good way) of many of the early ’80’s bands I’d hear on WLIR radio, circa ’81/’82; sad but yet the melody keeps the song from becoming mournful or doomy as “Windows” pulses with subtle synth lines, crisp guitar and a classic drum machine rhythm (I have to admit, I still enjoy the sound of vintage sequencers). “Seaside Cure” is one of those wonderful throwbacks (think the brilliant Heaven 17) and although electronically-based, it’s a warm and instantly classic track and to me, the album’s highlight; “Reformation” is slow, atmospheric and somewhat enigmatic and “Hetch Hetchy” is another perfect balance of electronics and guitar. One of the best elements of this album is the quality of the sound/production, which is as clear and resonant as I could hope for (and appreciate).
So once again, Pale Hands have delivered a strong collection that defies the cliches and notions about “electro pop”, but I tend to think it’s because their sound is based on the more melodic synth-pop of the early ’80’s. And that will always be alright with me.
Graphism is available now