Pale Ramon – Pale Ramon
Sometimes good things come in small packages. Take the debut record from Brooklyn’s Pale Ramon, which is barely long enough to even constitute an album. In a time when albums seem to be getting longer and longer this feels like a bold move. They’ve left themselves no breathing room, no space to falter, just six tracks in which to make a lasting impression. Few bands would willingly restrict themselves like that, and fewer still could manage to rise to the challenge as they do.
Merely hinted at by its title, ‘The Best Has Yet To Come’ has some indescribable knack for building tension. It’s not in the expressive drum work or the powerful vocal performance, though each of these elements helps propel the track to new heights. But there’s something, like that feeling on the back of your neck that you’re being followed walking home at night, that creates a palpable sense of anticipation. It doesn’t offer any release, instead handing over to the politically charged ‘Beat Punk’ to do its dirty work. Afire with purpose and brimming with energy thanks to its hyperactive bass line, it’s the kind of track that makes you feel like you can take on the whole world.
Album centrepiece ‘All My Ways Always’ is a stunning slow burner that feels like you’re watching life in fast forward. Though defined in the beginning by its elegant piano, it gradually brings together everything that made the preceding tracks great; the expressive percussion, the blistering bass, the rising tension, the raw wild energy. All of it. It all surges together before abruptly crashing down to leave an eerily empty atmosphere in its wake.
‘Don’t Take My Mind Away’ offers up tasteful electronica that forms a retro, spaced-out vibe. This feeling lingers somewhat into ‘Oh Well’, but with moments that also remind me (most curiously) of the score of Edward Scissorhands. It has that same vibe, both dark and yet somehow hopeful, which strikes me as a great way to end the record. The only track not pulling its weight is ‘Man Made Out Of Words’. While not “bad” in any real sense, it is the sole filler track amongst vastly more compelling offerings, and as such has nowhere to hide. Managing in just a handful of tracks what most acts struggle to do with two or three times as many, Pale Ramon have a clear idea of the band they want to be, and they pursue that goal with well-earned confidence.