Misra Records could be a gospel label. Hell, its has bands named Evangelicals, Hallelujah the Hills, and Summer Hymns. And religious moniker or not, most Misra bands worship at the altar of heart-on-sleeve sincerity. Too bad, then, that on its first album for Misra, Palomar isn’t convincing enough to convert listeners.
Nothing is really horrible on All Things, Forests, but nothing much stands out, either. The album is so much passion — the vaulting harmonies of “You’re Keeping Us Up,” the searing guitars of “Beats Beat Nothing,” the big dynamic shifts of “He Came to Stay — without much direction. The lyrics are stuffed with too many hes and theys and its. In twelve tracks, I only found one reference to something concrete: the look of trees in Brooklyn, in “The Air Between Us.” There’s even a song called “Bridge of Sighs.” Sigh.
When Palomar tries to fun things up a bit, the results aren’t impressive. The jauntier “Top Banana,” bouncing along on buoyant handclaps, comes of as second-rate Slumber Party. And Slumber Party is already second-rate Le Tigre.
But with this many jabs at emotion, some do land. “How to Beat Dementia” makes good on its intriguing title as a contemplation on aging with dignity. And on closer “Alone,” it does strike a nerve when the band is at full throat singing “With all our complications/ We make them/ But we hate them.”
On “Surprise Us,” vocalist Rachel Warren claims, “We hate the fact that we care.” Then don’t, dear. Lighten up next time.