Comprised of cousins Reese Donahue and Christopher Prudhomme, the electro pop duo of Painted Palms have almost always used the Internet to collaborate on songwriting — initially out of necessity, as the project started with Donahue based in San Francisco, and Prudhomme based near New Orleans. That virtual exchange informed the duo’s debut EP, Canopy which was championed by of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes.
After tours with the aforementioned Of Montreal, BRAIDS, STRFKR and others, Prudhomme eventually moved out west to join his cousin in San Francisco, and the duo continued to collaborate via Internet (this time out of personal preference) for the band’s full-length debut Forever, which managed to mesh breezy 60s inspired psychedelia and electro pop in a way that indirectly channelled In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy. Released a couple of months ago, the band’s sophomore effort Horizons, released through renowned indie label, Polyvinyl Records, was mixed by former DFA Records engineer Eric Broucek, who’s worked with LCD Soundsystem and Classixx and marked the first time that the duo worked on the recording and mixing together at the same time and same place.
“Refractor,” the album’s second single continues Horizons‘ overall feel and tone — meshing 60s pop and psychedelia with 80s synth pop and New Wave, as the hook-laden song consists of layers of quivering, undulating and cascading synth stabs paired with plaintive harmonies and propulsive drum programming. And although the song manages to possess slick, modern production techniques, the song thematically and lyrically sounds as though it could have been easily released in 1964 as much as it could have been released in 1983 or today.
The recently released official video combines live action with animation in a noirish and shadowy world full of murder and betrayal, which manages to emphasize the heartache and urgency at the core of the song.
And from the release of album singles “Tracer” and “Refractor,” Donahue and Prudhomme intended to, as Prudhomme tells me in the Q&A below, “to remove the ‘live band’ sounds from the last album and make something that sounded streamlined, focused and minimal. But we also wanted to take some few elements and sculpt them with a high attention to detail, making them feel huge and expansive.” And while managing to retain the 60s inspired pop melodies and songwriting flourishes, the emphasis on synths subtly pushes the material on Horizons towards early 80s synth pop and New Wave, which interestingly enough did something very similar.