Since 2013, with the release of their Bad Weather full-length debut, Nottingham’s Palm Reader have always promised they would grow into a really special group. Heralded early on by the press as the UK’s own Dillinger Escape Plan, these were justifiable comparisons such was the ferocity of their hardcore. However, over time, Palm Reader have shaped their sound into something more than just face-ripping savagery. Now, with their new offering, Sleepless, the Nottingham boys have finally blossomed into that incredible band they’ve been promising for so long.
“Hold/Release” sets the scene for the rest of the album as Palm Reader crash between almost Deftones-like passages of calmness and violent, jarring bursts of ferocity. “Stay Down” is the first hint that Palm Reader hasn’t lost any of their visceral edge as, for just over four savage minutes, they career through one of the most aggressive tracks on the album. Hold that up alongside the surreal, gentle tones used during “Ending Cycle” and you would be forgiven for thinking that you’re listening to two completely different bands. Haunting, atmospheric, tender, it’s a wonderful shift in direction for the album with vocalist Josh Mckeown, in particular, putting in an emotion-wringing stint.
Now, if it is emotion you want then “Willow” should have you on your knees. A song written about a mother losing a child, “Willow” is a powerful, dramatic listen and one where, again, they layer out their savage hardcore with those atmospheric intricacies. As the album reaches “False Thirst,” the depth of Palm Reader’s music really takes hold. A calming, atmospheric track, peppered with gentle pianos and Mckeown’s melodic vocals, the song builds and builds before exploding into an enormous finale. If this is any hint of the experimental direction Palm Reader is capable of then it’s frightening to think where they could take their sound. It’s followed up by “Brink” where that experimental nature continues but falls more in line with the record’s more abrasive moments.
As a complete piece of work, Sleepless gets more epic as it progresses. “A Love That Tethers,” towards the tail end of the album, exemplifies this point with the band flitting between soothing, moody passages and blasts of abrasive metallic guitars. The record ends with a bang in the form of “Both Ends of the Rope.” It’s a finale that sees that experimental direction explored on this record peppered with a liberal mix of haunting vocals and Mckeown’s throat-ripping roars. The song is a phenomenal end to Sleepless, a challenging, experimental album that quite rightly takes Palm Reader to the level they deserve.
Sleepless Track Listing:
2. Stay Down
3. Ending Cycle
5. A Bird and It’s Feathers
7. False Thirst
9. A Love That Tethers
10. Both Ends of the Rope
Run Time: 47:56
Release Date: November 27, 2020
Record Label: Church Road Records