Pop-punk: the most confusing musical description ever. Tell a video-store nerd you’re looking for a Wes Anderson/Michael Bay-type film, or tell a Boston resident you like the Yanks and the Sox. One is practically defined by its lack of being the other. But somehow, thanks to MTV hyping bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182, we’ve created a paint-by-numbers template for being popular by relentlessly claiming you’re unique in the face of contradicting evidence. When Urban Outfitters sells clothes with directions on how to rip your newest shirt properly, something has gone horribly wrong.
Palomar’s solution is simple: Embrace the pop, not the punk. Yesteryear’s punk informs their music with rapid-fire chord changes and gristle-free songs, but the Brooklyn four-piece doesn’t dwell on it. Instead, they push pop to the forefront of Revenge of Palomar. The heartfelt lyrics lack even a hint of irony, instead opting to sport a sly sense of humor not often found today. The three female vocalists harmonize as the band plays its hook-laden tunes with a confidence that matches their talent.
Too many songs sound fractured, as if the body of the song and the chorus were written with little regard to each other, glued together at the last minute. But Palomar’s songs sound as if they were conceived all in one sitting, as one piece sprouted from the other logically. The build on the magnificent “Work Is a State Function” reinforces the bitingly honest lyrics, adding up to one of the catchiest songs on the record. The wordy choruses are amplified by the up-and-down melodies and the speed at which they’re delivered.
After touring with the likes of Spoon and Ted Leo, Palomar’s stars are likely on the rise, and rightfully so. At the risk of inspiring a vicious backlash from his supporters, their music probably bears the closest resemblance to the latter — at least in spirit — as their straightforward songs shirk any affiliation with today’s pervasive detachment, instead choosing to just rock out and fill your head with infectious melodies. For a band that recorded its album in Williamsburg, Revenge of Palomar sure as hell doesn’t sound retro, and they sure as hell don’t care. They’re having fun, and you should too.