Album Review: Palberta – ‘Palberta5000’

Posted: by The Editor

Palberta has been simmering in the background for some time on the national stage, but in their scene, they’re seasoned veterans. They’ve played with everyone from Porches to Told Slant to even Bikini Kill. The Brooklyn-based trio makes wiry, hectic indie rock that calls to mind Girlpool circa their debut EP. I’ve long struggled to fully latch on to what they’re doing – it’s highly specific and purposefully abrasive at times. On their fifth full length, Palberta5000, we see them finally channel that abrasiveness into its most digestible form yet. The songs here retain their uncomfortable qualities, but in a way, that’s pared back. They put more emphasis on melody, crafting hooks that, while unconventional, still grab you. The band’s members, Lily Konigsberg, Nina Ryser, and Anina Ivry-Block aren’t shy about their embrace of mainstream pop music, and this is the first time we’re seeing that appreciation truly diffuse throughout their work. 

Palberta5000 gives the group opportunities to showcase their penchant for demented rock songs filled with rough and fibrous riffs. The excellent “Fragile Place” plays out with mathy, regimented chaos. It’s like a surf rock-inspired Palm song. The use of repetition in both its structure, as well as lyrics creates a hypnotic effect that you can’t turn away from despite how inherently unsettling it is. 

“Something in the Way” is another standout. Palberta’s vocal harmonies are one of their strongest assets, and they’re used sparingly here, but to great effect. They stagger them, letting the lyrics fan out. Contrasted with the song’s unpredictable, tumultuous guitarwork, we see the record’s balancing act spelled out in a microcosm. They often hardly need lyrics at all. Just look at “Hey!”, where that’s the only word they ever utter. If this song were a little heavier and more distorted, it could easily fit in on a Melkbelly record. Here though, the bobbing and weaving guitar and bass parts bound about unfiltered.

These are kinetic, inventive pop songs that break the mold. Konigsburg’s sense of melody is masterful. Without it, these songs would skew too far towards experimental. Palberta will likely never be as ubiquitously beloved as some of the bands that came from their scene, or burst forth from Bard College as they did, but you get the sense that has never been the goal. It seems more likely they aim to create because it is something they must do. Their position as pillars of Brooklyn DIY helps evidence that. It is still refreshing to see them lean harder on the less experimental side of things, and broaden their reach as well as sound. 

Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great /Phenomenal

Eric Bennett |@seething_coast

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