The 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 — built upon a rapidly growing profile regionally and internationally, with the release of their sophomore album 2018’s Nowadays.
Nowadays found the Danish pop duo expanding around the sound that had already won them praise: breezy and melodic, radio friendly pop centered around heavy thematic concerns and lived-in songwriting. Thematically, the album touched upon adulthood and the loss of innocence; the accompanying tough and sobering life lessons as you get older; the freedom and power that comes as one takes control of their life and destiny and so on.
Palace Winter’s highly anticipated third album . . . Keep Dreaming, Buddy dropped today, and unlike their previously released material, the album was written through a long distance correspondence as Carl 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, they also draw 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.
Over the past handful of months, I’ve written about four of the album’s released singles:
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 was an expansive song that featured elements of arena rock, glam rock and synth pop, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook, a crunchy power chord-driven riff, shimmering synth arpeggios and strummed guitar. But interestingly enough, the song is actually deceptively and ironically upbeat as it tackles the anxiety of anticipatory grief, as it focuses on a narrator, who is preparing for the inevitable loss of a dear, loved one. Loss and despair are always around the corner, indeed.
“Deeper End,” the album’s third single was a decidedly genre-defying affair that found the duo pushing their sound in a new direction without changing the essentially elements of the sound 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.” 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.
“Richard (Says Yes),” a playful, thematic left turn that finds the duo writing a big, upbeat party them — but while pushing their sound in a new direction. Centered around their unerring knack for crafting an anthemic hook, “Richard (Says Yes)” is a remarkably proggy take on their sound.
Earlier this year, the duo — with their backing band — filmed a live session from a Copenhagen tennis court. The session featured live versions of two of my favorite songs off the new album: “Top of the Hill” and “Won’t Be Long.”