By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Wharf Cat; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Jaws”, “Ode to Honey”, “She Feels That Way”
Palberta is one of those bands that’s really hard to describe. The New York-based experimental rock trio has been polarizing audiences for years with their crazy rhythms, screaming vocals and extremely unsettling, staccato-filled musical style. Their 2015 EP Hot on the Beach is the perfect introduction to this sound, with five in-your-face tracks that are hard to swallow. With 20 anxiety-inducing tracks running at just under 30 minutes, Palberta’s formal debut full-length, Bye Bye Berta, continues to do the thing they do best: be absolutely batshit insane.
What’s truly unique about Bye Bye Berta is that no two songs sound the same. Every single one does something musically different from the previous track, creating an assortment of odd sounds. The opener, “Why Didn’t I?”, is a strange, vocal-layering track filled with sliding guitars and banging drums, with the members harmonizing the same lines over and over again, creating a sense of paranoia and discomfort that’s present throughout the entire record. The next track, “Acoustic Rollup”, is a chaotic mess filled with out of tune vocal harmonies, abrasive guitar riffing and oddly placed brass instruments. These two tracks alone convey how audibly scattered Bye Bye Berta is; not that it’s a bad thing.
A song that’ll stick with the listener is “She Feels That Way”, which is probably the best song in the band’s discography. The track is written like something from The Residents’ Duck Stab, with hammering guitar and drums taking their roles as background noise to angelic harmonies, that repeat the track’s title over and over again, almost as if it’s some religious chant. It’s a truly unsettling track that has become an easy contender for track of the year.
Bye Bye Berta is a complete mess but in the best way possible. Not only is it probably Palberta’s most accessible release to date, but it’s also their most interesting, providing a diverse collection of sounds that shows off what they’re capable of. If Palberta isn’t on every music publication’s “Band to Watch” list, hopefully Bye Bye Berta is the album that’ll get them to change their minds.