With their sublime second album, Palace have pulled off a rare pop trick. Songs steeped in darkness emerge in to light, from bleak situations spring fresh starts. Bathed in the band’s atmospheric alt-rock, the future feels brighter and more optimistic.
Life After is both an album about loss and a manual to moving on. “I’m writing this song, to help you breathe again,” sings Leo Wyndham on the opening title track, a shimmering ode to survival. By the epic, seven minute-plus closer Heaven Up There, the theme of Life After is obvious.
“Hope,” says Leo. “Hope and positivity – seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel. It’s about going through tough times and coming out the other side.”
Palace didn’t start their second album with any plans in place. Buoyed by the reception of their debut, 2016’s So Long Forever, and near two years of sold-out shows and festival slots that won them fans worldwide, the London-based trio of former Dorset school friends had a new-found confidence that they were keen to capture on record.
“On our debut, we were pretty green and new to it all,” admits drummer Matt Hodges, who had never been in a band before Palace formed for fun in 2012. “We’d only had a few rehearsals when we started getting gigs. We put one song on Soundcloud, and people started to listen. We released an EP and suddenly we were signed.
“We almost drove ourselves mad making our first album. We’d spend weeks on one drum part then scrap it. What we learned was to stop being so precious. If it sounds good, go with it.”
Between tours in 2017, Palace returned to their Tottenham studio-come-shared warehouse space, The Arch, where So Long Forever was demoed, and simply plugged in and played.
Our sole aim was to write better songs “Some songs have an all-enveloping wall of guitars, others are stripped right down. It was about finding the right mood for each song, not settling on one sound.”
Some of the songs had been written on the road, referencing both relationships that had broken down and new bonds that had been forged. Others took shape in the studio and captured events that were taking place in the trio’s lives, often only realised in retrospect.
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