Making pop music, especially independent pop music, is an unforgiving task. No matter how much a musician puts into crafting the perfect three-minute confection of pop bliss, significant segments of music fans will dismiss it as frivolous. This is especially compounded for an indie band, where the audience is predisposed to a level of criticism even higher than the norm. Heedless, the Hearts of Palm UK throw themselves to the veritable wolves with their debut collection of eleven airy, tuneful compositions, For Life. The trio, led by singer and songwriter Erica Elektra, unearths the best of ’80s electro-pop and marries it gorgeously with the lo-fi, indie aesthetic.
For all the beeps and drum machines that made it onto the final pressing, For Life is, at its heart, a showcase for Elektra’s writing skills. She originally composed the songs on an acoustic guitar and recorded them with single-track vocals. A close listen to For Life’s lyrics indicates that it probably would have held up as a simpler singer-songwriter album, but it would have been one among a sea of such records. Elektra wisely followed her muse to electrify and remix the entire album, overlaying danceable beats on the intelligent, if not exactly distinct, lyrics. The resulting hybrid is something original in a field that clamors for the next iteration of the indie sound.
Elektra and the other two members of Hearts of Palm UK, Frankie Rose and Billy Kaye, have created a debut that sounds fresh and sweet without tipping the scales into preciousness. With that minefield navigated, the band can now exploit the novelty of their invented personas and the UK attached to their name, which is definitely a red herring for a band out of Los Angeles. These quirks might seem grating on the normal indie flavor of the month, but not many of them have an album like For Life to go along with them.