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Palast - Palast (2017) - Review

Band: Palast
Album title: Palast
Release date: 21 April 2017
Label: NoCut

01. Shut The Door
02. She Can Dance
03. Tell Me Why
04. Strong
05. Mirror Mirror
06. Nightfall
07. Stand Up
08. When You Fall
09. One Day
10. Unraveling Skies

Founded in 2015, a synth-pop trio from Berlin named themselves after a famous local radio station where their first song was recorded. A year later their first EP Hush was released and in the spring of 2017 we finally came to witness their debut, eponymous album. So, did you think of Depeche Mode or Hurts, when you came across the term synth-pop? Whether it was the first of the later, it's all there. Palast is what a fan of synthesizer driven pop/experimental electro rock music should and would want: a modern approach to that catchy, eerie sound of retro sounding pop. Momentarily mawkish, but dead on serious at other times. And even though we live in an era when anything is possible just with a few clicks on a computer, Palast decided to go in there totally raw, so their sound is not based on computer samples – so no, this is not a retrowave album, it’s a ravishing synth-pop odyssey.

Originality may not be their strongest suit, Palast's classy sound certainly has its more than strong appeal. Throughout ten tracks on the debut we are to witness the flirtatious elegance of Duran Duran, sexy darkness of Depeche Mode, catchy vibes of Alphaville, ethereal appeal of Hurts combined with imagery of today's biggest rockstars Muse. The opening track "Shut The Door" gives a great introduction to what Palast are about – creating soundscapes basing on flamboyant synths, pounding rhythm, exhilarating vocal work and splashy energy. The following "She Can Dance" has Depeche Mode’s written all over it, while Hurts-esque "Strong" is a bit of more melodramatic and contemplative. If any song is really worth pointing out, it has to be "Mirror, Mirror" - the EBM/dark electro influenced intro of the songs so nicely flows into a catchy chorus, which makes this song perfect to becoming a real dance anthem and probably a live favourite, as the energy of the song is so astonishingly uplifting.

While the flamboyant and retro vibe of the 80s sound is there, leaking out from every note, the album does have its more profound and introspective side, which shines especially in eerie and velvety "When You Fall" and the closing "Unraveling Skies". To reveal its raw rock side, "One Day" reminds a bit on early Muse, with its slightly distortive, kind of grungy sound. Modern, chart-topping effect is then present in "Nightfall", a song that momentarily had me thinking I’m listening to a Robbie Williams track - not only because of its radio friendly tune, but because the vocal work of Sascha Pace really does remind of the great entertainer.

With all aforementioned artists listed, which have and still are creating the music scene, you may get a feeling Palast is nothing but a trio of copycats. But let me reassure you – they are much more. While the influences are strongly presents, Palast’s debut still is a story written on its own and it’s a good case showing originality is sometimes overrated. This album simply excels in the intertwining dynamics between songs: on one hand you will be mesmerized with tunes which are trying to allure you to step on the dancefloor and on the other, you will be embraced by the passionate ambient of songs, which peer into the more though and feelings provoking atmospheres. The vintage popish soundscapes on catchy, elegant, graceful, transfixing and explosive and I don’t recall when it was the last time I put an album on repeat so many times, as I did with Palast. Honestly, I initially wanted to give this album a lesser rating, because I believe the German trio can achieve and deliver much more, but as I said – this nerve-striking album’s symbiotic dichotomy and suave energy crawled into my skin immediately and the more I listened to it, the more affectionate I became towards it. The album doesn’t lose its energy and focus not even for a second and I am looking forward to hearing more from Palast in the future indeed.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 9/10