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Palehound - Eye on the Bat (Album Review)

Tuesday, 25 July 2023 Written by Jack Terry

Photo: Tonje Thilesen

El Kempner has never been one to shy away from life's humorous, ugly truths. As Palehound, they have made a habit of wrapping wry tales of sexual escapades and emotional turmoil in knotty, unusual guitar patterns. With ‘Eye on the Bat’ they continue to do so in breezy, if slightly underwhelming, fashion.

The LP kicks off with the wicked, wry Good Sex, recounting a corset-based mishap that they can look back on and laugh about. The song ends with the line: “Bad sex makes a good joke that anyone can get / But good sex makes a bad joke that's only funny if you were there.”

Kempner's ability to tell a story is second to none and the pictures they paint are vivid enough that they almost feel voyeuristic in the listener's hands.

Independence Day and Right About You continue the magnification of personal moments that may seem innocuous only to give us something granular and real to identify with.

Over unfailingly jaunty indie-rock Kempner captures the feeling of an adventurous date or the way that romantic encounters can be tarnished by past connections, painstakingly exploring the sights, sounds and smells of cherished memories.

Barely passing the half hour mark, 'Eye on the Bat' races by. As the closing moments of Fadin' ring out, though, the end comes as a surprise and we're left trying to remember what we just heard. While there's nothing bad about the record, there are very few moments that stick in the mind. Instead, its mid-section becomes a wash of anecdotal narration and affable guitar-pop.

When it comes down to it, 'Eye on the Bat' is the recorded equivalent of those stories your friends share when you're out for a drink, which you completely forget about until someone mentions a key phrase from that tale. It'll make an impression in the moment, but it won't stick around for long.

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