Palma Violets burst onto the scene in 2012 with the spirited and raucous “Best Of Friends“, and its catchy clatter, full of infectious unbridled energy and roguish charm, rightfully announcing themselves as ones to watch. The track would go on to be voted ‘Song of the Year’ by the NME, and it acted as the curtain-raiser on the band’s much-awaited debut album 180 a year later.
There’s always a danger of piling hype onto a young, fresh-faced up-and-coming band, but in a very effective way, it separates the strong from the weak, those that will begin to build a legacy and those that are merely momentary sparks in the flame. Palma Violets, clearly not ones suffering from a lack of self-belief or confidence, lapped it up and not only took it in their stride, but fed off the hype to add even more charisma to their already over-flowing buckets of it, to churn out a debut album that was one of the most invigorating the UK had seen in years.
Some bands give themselves a problem when they’ve hit the sweet spot with such aplomb on their first release, but Palma Violets haven’t broken their swaggering stride on second album Danger In The Club at all. Their sound has never been polished, it’s exactly that imperfection that gives them so much character, and they haven’t lost any of that roughness in their new material. The rowdiness and brothers-in-arms feel still oozes through it all in abundance and their punk mentality, still blossoming on 180, is now in full bristling bloom.
A wolf howl introduces “Hollywood (I Got It)“, and a devil-may-care admission of “I can do anything at all” is repeatedly thrown around in its rollicking back-end, signs of the frenzied madness that’s to follow, and after the shotgun drums and snappy guitar riff in “Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better on the Beach” blast out to induce mosh-like spasms, a most truthful confession is made: “you said I’ve changed but I’ve always been this way”.
Cue the title-track. It stumbles in, bleary-eyed, and throws its arm over its best friend who together then raise their pints aloft and proceed to swill and sway, only taking breaks from pouring the golden nectar down their necks to grab another. This is where Palma Violet are in their element, this is how they’ve always existed, at the centre of a boisterous anthem, in a controlled chaos, where not a care in the world is had. And if that wasn’t convincing enough, just to ram the point home, “English Tongue” rounds the album off in the biggest, liveliest, merriest sing-along you’ll hear this year, and it sticks its two fingers up to anyone left doubting the band’s true identity with the smirky declaration of “everybody knows just who I am”.
It must be said that this anarchic state Palma Violets exist in, or particularly, that frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson exist in, is only possible because keyboardist Jeff Mayhew and drummer Will Doyle keep things tightly tethered in the background, with the former also adding dashes of melody and texture here and there that shine through in tracks like “Coming Over to My Place” and “Walking Home“.
It’s a much-needed dynamic flowing through the band, preventing them from completely blowing away in the winds of wildness. Those winds though, that blow at an enthralling gust throughout the album are brought to ill-timed standstills on a few occasions, with the sullen “Matador” and the darker “Peter & The Gun”, two quite convoluted compositions that throw the whole momentum off course. They just don’t sound like Palma Violets tracks, they take themselves too seriously, and that’s not what we’ve come to expect from this carefree, often senseless group of animals.
There’s no secret to Palma Violets’ feisty sound. There’s no smoke and mirrors. They just know who they are and they’re extremely comfortable with it. They might not sound as professional as a lot of other bands, but punk’s ever been anything but that. Punk is pouring your blood and sweat into your songs, it’s a rawness that only the unrestricted have. It’s about enlivening the masses with an unruly bite, and this rag-tag group of punk rock comrades are ready to chomp down. Palma Violet’s Danger In The Club is out now via Rough Trade, purchase it here.
Words by Oli Kuscher