A wise man once said “Misery fucking loves me…”, and if you love misery, you should love Palm Reader. Three records in, the band are still producing the same miserablist Hardcore fans have come to expect from them, but this time around the riffs are harsher, the atmosphere is denser, and the lyrics are more poignant.
A few years ago it felt that Palm Reader was on the cusp of being everyone’s new favourite band, but for some reason, it didn’t quite happen. The band’s songwriting prowess hadn’t waned as they still wielded the push and pull of outright rage and menacing calm as expertly as ever, but it felt that neither of the band’s first two records got anywhere near as much love as they deserved (this is your opportunity to revisit those records, by the way).
This time around, however, it feels like the support is back. Getting its premiere on national radio, ‘Swarm’ was Palm Reader’s first statement of intent for Braille, and with its erratic drums and frantic riffs, it’s safe to say that the Nottingham natives came out swinging. Even in the lyrics, perhaps unintentionally, it feels like there are these subtle references to the band’s past flirtations with the mainstream. “We lost the majesty…” Josh McKeown shrieks to open ‘Internal Winter’ in a rather defeatist manner, but then “Success of the common man was never a part of the bigger plan…” rings out as defiant on ‘Inertia’ as a statement for the band’s steadfast attitude to do things their way.
Josh’s vocals have strengthened since album two and, at times, echo the two-pronged attack of Greg Pucatio. The scathing bite on ‘Like A Wave’ is fairly obvious, then immediately following that is the melancholic crooning on ‘Inertia’ evoking the kind of melodic intricacies from latter-day Dillinger on One Of Us… and Dissociation. Braille can weave its ire seamlessly into minimalist melancholy like ‘Breach’ or ‘Dorothy’ or riff-heavy, crushing despair on ‘Coalesce’, but this isn’t a contrast of light and dark, it’s more like a mix of dark and even-fucking-darker.
Like Bad Weather and Beside The Ones We Love before it, Braille clocks out with a lengthy, weighty punch in the form of ‘A Lover, A Shadow’. It follows its fellow swansongs with a more drawn-out, slow-burning affair, continuing the trend of epic, ambitious catharsis and closure to end the record that Palm Reader have employed previously. Shuddering bass closes the track after the title of the track roars repeatedly from the speakers, mimicking the body convulsing involuntarily after a screaming fit or grief-stricken cry.
Easily their most ambitious and heaviest output to date, Braille is the record Palm Reader have been threatening to make for a while, and with their first mainland UK tour in well over a year with RoloTomassi in progress, they’re going for the jugular. This is the time where we should all be supporting
Palm Reader because a wise man once said: “Misery fucking loves us, and we love her too…”.