Led by singer/songwriter, producer and Ice Queen Records founder Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins to when Lekkas resided in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing, recording and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Lekkas initially started Palm Ghosts as a solo recording project — and as a creative outlet to cope with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety.
During a long prototypically Northeastern winter, he recorded a batch of introspective songs that at the time, he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the project’s full-length debut. After a short tour in 2013 to support the album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past handful of years, you may recall that Palm Ghosts’ third album, 2018’s Architecture was a change in sonic direction for the project with Lekkas writing material influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order, The Cure, and others.
Much like countless other acts across the world, Lekkas and his bandmates spent much of forced downtime of the pandemic, being as busy as humanly possible: The members of the JOVM mainstay act wrote a ton of new material. The past year or so of isolation of lockdowns and quarantines, socioeconomic and financial uncertainty and protests and demonstrations helped to fuel an immediacy to the material the band had been busily writing.
Earlier this year, the Nashville-based outfit released their fourth album Lifeboat Candidate, a fittingly dark, dystopian effort full of confusion, fear and dread, informed by the events and circumstances of last year. And while the world feels little changed since last year, the JOVM mainstay’s fifth album Lost Frequency is a much different album. Initially scheduled for release last year, Lifeboat Candidate harkens to the before, when things seemed normal — or at least less uneasy, less desperate. After a difficult 18 months of pandemic, 700,000+ deaths in the US alone, financial despair, political uncertainty and more, having some respite, some sort of escape is what most of us urgently need. In a loose sense, Lost Frequency feels almost celebratory — and perhaps a bit more nostalgic, than its immediate predecessor. But the material lyrically brings confrontation to the forefront, reminding the listener that at this juncture, normalcy is devastating.
Lost Frequency‘s first single “Bloodlight” continues a run of hook-driven material indebted to The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode and the like with the song being centered around tweeter and woofer thumping beats, shimmering guitars, hypnotic, motorik grooves, atmospheric synths and an enormous hook. And while dance floor friendly, the song lyrically is a seething indictment of humanity and its treatment of Mother Earth.
“‘Bloodlight,’ the album opener, is a dark dance track that compares the climate crisis to a crime scene,.” Palm Ghosts’ Joseph Leekas explains in press notes. “Luminol is a chemical commonly used in forensics for the detection of blood stains. Nothing vanishes without a trace and particles of blood adhere to surfaces for years.
“The same applies to what humans have done to the earth. The damage will remain long after we are gone.”
Directed by Nick Hawl, the recently released video for “Bloodlight” stars Ben de la Cour, Jessica Bell, Charles Hager and Cole Morse in a dark and uneasy police procedural that follows two cowboy hat wearing detectives investigating a brutal and bloody double murder. But as the story slows unfurls, we see that something is dangerously wrong: one of the detectives was obsessed with the victim — and towards the end of the video, we see a vicious yet fairly obvious plot twist that hits upon the themes of the song.