Written by: BL on 31/07/2013 23:35:16

It's always a fulfilling musical experience to listen to something bold, daring, and brimming with depth and originality. "Outcasts" the debut album from New Jersey post-hardcore act Palisades is probably none of those things. It conforms to genre expectations like slipping on a glove as the ingredients and contours of their sound is exactly one expects - electronics, poppy choruses inbetween fast low tuned heavy verses, and breakdowns. That said, what is the inevitable result manages to still land deft punches, and at times bares an irresistable pop sensibility if you have the stomach for it.

Following on from first EP "I'm Not Dying Today", Palisades has taken their what worked then and improved upon them smartly - namely their bright melodic pop punk influenced sound, and their ambitious array of various ambient sounds to playful electronics that never seem to resort to the same techno already done a billion times over. Opener "We Are All" demonstrates the band's apt use of spacey and distanced, subtle sounds that slowly erupts in a transition almost too smooth for most bands of their ilk who don't normally understand simple dynamics. "Your Disease" and "Outcasts" are also strong early numbers with seriously infectious choruses, and though you won't be blown away by the dressing around them, there's thought put into their arrangements that aren't simply stitched together. "A Disasterpiece" is where the formula really starts to shine through - the electronics and samples feel especially integral to the song and the feeling all round is as much a sense of fun as it is aggression - in your face but thankfully not obnoxious or annoying.

"The Reckoning" employs similar tactics though doesn't get heated until the latter half where a fiery guest spot from Chris Roetter from Like Moths To Flames takes center stage, unleashing a manic dance tune over a blistering breakdown segment. The fellow Rise Records cameos don't end there though (Andy Leo of Crown The Empire already appeared on the album name track earlier) as none other than Tyler Carter of Issues and ex-Woe, Is Me lends his silky RnB styled voice to "High & Low". This song is likely to polarize some listeners for being extremely electronic pop orientated where the heavy guitars only make the briefest appearances, but on the other hand it's devilishly charming and the song just bleeds great melodies from both of the singers in the band (bassist Brandon Reese is a lower, soulful contrast to the high pitched lead singer Louis Miceli) and Carter. "The Arctic" isn't quite as memorable by comparison coming straight after, the mood is a little more sombre and there's a darker emotional aspect though it's largely hurt by the instrumentals being a little too run of the mill. Fortunately "A.I." is once again upbeat, to the point of enticing you to dance along with an addictive beat in the chorus - the pop punk elements also working surprisingly well with the futuristic electro ambience.

"Betrayed" retreads the superior first half of the album somewhat, as while it ends up being almost a carbon copy of "A Disasterpiece" and "A Reckoning" in most places, one might find it hard not to sing along to the chorus. Things slow down for "Sidney", a refreshing and laid back acoustic piece where once Reese and Miceli share the singing duties and my only thought is that it's such a shame that this dual vocal approach isn't being utilised more often. "Scarred" isn't the most climatic of album finishers, but there's yet again a cheeky electronic breakdown that I can't stop myself grinning and nodding my head along to.

"Outcasts" at the end of the day embodies all that you may love or hate about the contemporary post-hardcore genre, with the exception of maybe the much heavier bands as Palisades certainly sits on the poppier side of the spectrum if you like to indulge like myself. No awards will be given for technical prowess in the instrumental department but the production and mixing from Cameron Mizell of Chango Studios ensures a blade like finish, and the layering of sounds can be impressively staggering at times. The songwriting while still a bit young and at times safe, is accomplished for a debut with a fair share of style and dramatic flair, and it definitely helps that these guys have a useful ear for melody. Hopefully we'll see Palisades grow further and continue to rise, but for now "Outcasts" is a fine summer companion.


Download: Outcasts, A Diasterpiece, High & Low
For the fans of: I See Stars, Hands Like Houses, Woe, Is Me

Release date 20.05.2013
Rise Records

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