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


About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

View All Articles