Album Review

Carousel - Palms EP

Released July 29, 2013
Amy Sand
Welcome to what 2013 sounds like: a sleepy rave on the beach. Carousel, the smoothest electro-pop band around, creates a cohesive EP filled with chill dance tunes. Palms gives equal precedence to both their dreamy vocals and Cali-electro beats, as if this collection was specifically sound tracked for an Indie movie filled with angsty teens cruising down the PCH, body parts hanging out the window.

Berklee College of Music grads Jackson Phillips and Kevin Friedman formed Carousel in 2011. With a sound so familiar you’d swear you’d heard it before, they quickly built up internet buzz, prompting them to tour with the likes of A Silent Film and Civil Twilight. Palms combines nice-guy lyrics with hopeful beats to bring on a fitting summer backdrop.

The exciting “Not Enough” is an uplifting, almost church tune, about a guy happy in his place. "In this town, I feel the way that I want to feel.” That is if church-was-a-stage-on-sand-where-Jesus-played-the-keyboard.

This hopeful outlook remains throughout Palms: a defining sentiment in a musical sea of pre-apocalyptic despair. “Another Day” delivers a beautifully fuzzy image of easy-paced love, showcasing Carousel’s talent in producing simple, free-of-cliché lines. With the hypnotic “Close My Eyes,” the lyrics finally match the sound’s trippiness and we get to groove on lines like “Don’t take me home or we’ll turn to fire.” Oh yeeaaahh.

Some opportunities are missed. The opening brass of "Wolf's Awake" is deliciously jarring and leaves a taste for it throughout the rest of the song. With all their smoothness, Carousel loses the ability to instantly grab their audience with a song (consequently, the impact of the record takes time). The one exception is the striking “Before You,” with the tame yet relatable break-up hook “I was better then, I was better before you.” Their biggest set-back is the overwhelming competition in their genre. Often compared to fellow electro-poppers, Passion Pit, they are far less experimental. They feel more like a younger cousin of the Philly band, Vactioner. At least for now, they’re a cousin you’ll want to visit.

Only time will tell if they’ll grow up to be an iTunes hustler or just failed mustache-growers. Palms, with all its effortlessness, can cause confusion: is this unoriginal or just a side effect of genre overcrowding. Competition and future aside, it’s completely beautiful.