Copenhagen, Denmark-based pop duo and JOVM mainstays Palace Winter — Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born, Copenhagen-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager — can trace their origins to the duo’s mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work throughout a number of different projects over the years. Naturally, that mutual familiarity and appreciation for each other’s work led to the duo deciding to work together.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Palace Winter’s sophomore album, 2018’s Nowaways found the duo expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that won them praise, as they paired breezy and melodic, radio friendly pop with heavy thematic concerns — with the album material’s touching upon the loss of innocence of adulthood, the accompanying tough and sobering lessons as you get older, the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny and the like. But it’s all underpinned by the profound grief of inconsolable loss. Life, after all is about recognizing that immense heartbreak and devastating loss are part of the price of admission, and that somehow you have to figure out a way to move forward.
Palace Winter’s highly anticipated, third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Tambourhinoceros Records, and unlike their preceding albums, . . .Keep Dreaming, Buddy‘s material was written through a long distance correspondence as the band’s Coleman was residing in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. “Caspar was sending me these synth hooks and drum loops from Denmark, so I started coming up with melodies and lyrical ideas to record into my phone,” Coleman says of the writing sessions. While Coleman’s lyrics were inspired by Tenerife’s unique landscape, drawing metaphorical parallels between Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano, which also is one of Spain’s tallest peaks and the looming fear of a relationship disintegrating, Hesselager’s instrumental parts were inspired by Copenhagen’s landscape. And as a result, the album’s material is literally a tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states.
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: The album’s first single “Top of the Hill,” was a great example of the album’s overall tale of two cities and two completely different emotional states. Featuring shimmering and icy synths, thumping beats and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook paired with Coleman’s volcanic imagery-based lyrics, the song captures the bubbling dissatisfaction, boredom, frustration and distrust of a relationship about to boil over and explode. “Won’t Be Long,” . . . .Keep Dreaming Buddy‘s second single may arguably be the album’s most ambitious and expansive songs. Featuring elements of arena rock, glam rock and synth pop, the track which was centered around a rousingly anthemic hook, a crunchy power chord-driven riff, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed acoustic guitar, the song is actually deceptively (and perhaps, even ironically) upbeat, as it tackles the anxiety of anticipatory loss of a loved one. Loss and despair are always around the corner, indeed.
“Deeper End,” the album’s third single is a decidedly genre-defying affair — and it finds the duo pushing their sound in a new direction but without changing the elements of their sound and approach that has won them attention internationally. Featuring an infectious hook, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar, the breezy song is one part synth pop. one part 70s AM rock, one part country — but while centered around an unusual juxtaposition: the song as the band’s Carl Coleman explains is “a story about a bad trip at a weird house party I went to with my sister.” Coleman adds “Think Kraftwerk playing a classic country song.” In either case, the song is full of slow-burning, creeping dread and anxiety, the fear of skeleton stuffed closets being exposed.
Granddaddy’s Jason Lytle contributes a guest verse to the song, a verse in which his character dispenses harsh yet very trippy truths to the song’s hallucinating and anxious narrator. Interestingly, the collaboration can trace its origins back to when the members of Palace Winter discovered that Lytle was a fan, after he added a Palace Winter song to one of his playlists. Coleman, who’s been a longtime fan of Lytle’s work with Granddaddy reached out to Lytle with what he thought was an unlikely proposition to work together. Obviously, Lytle said yes. “It’s wild to think that back in the early naughties I was wandering around Europe with Grandaddy in my headphones, and now here I am trading lines with Jason. It’s a real honour and a proud moment for our band” Coleman says.