Palm, truly an art-rock band—not just in designation, but in practice and pursuit—returns from a pandemic reprieve with their most abstract and ambitious work to date. With improved technical proficiency, they further push the bounds of what art might still be considered music. With this extreme approach, Nicks and Grazes is as much of a challenge as it is enjoyable.
The album’s closest stab at a mainstream song is “Feathers,” and it almost aligns its complex rhythms and beats with its oddly structured melodies. If that track doesn’t work for listeners, then further listening will only frustrate. “Eager Copy” through “And Chairs” makes more sense as one piece. The angular techno, unexpected starts and stops, and inclusion of a spoken word interlude work best when viewed as a whole rather than separate ideas. In fact, the entirety of Nicks and Grazes works better when thought of as a sonic collage rather than a collection of disparate songs.
With nifty and unique choral effects, real and simulated, and some incredible substitutions of noise in place of traditional instruments, the album is an unbelievable accomplishment. The constant juxtaposition of melody and rhythm alone make the effort interesting and impressive. However, there exists a line between high art, and art for the sake of “art.” Where this album falls will lay in the ears of the individual listener.