Constant under-appreciation will push any man to make bold decisions and take a wild swing in the dark eventually, and such is the case with Palm Reader, who have been battering ears and faces with their jazzy hardcore for just shy of 10 years now, agonisingly unable to break out of the underground, like a mole in a car park. The band seem doomed to live and die as one of those brilliantly underrated acts whose name is, for no good reason, restricted to the lips of their peers and the press rather than the ears and hearts of the public, but that should all change with Braille, which seethes with a devil-may-care, last-chance sense of purpose and determination that has previously been absent. Throwing everything they’ve got at every moment they’re given, the band cram a thousand square ideas into a hundred round holes, corralling the scorched earth hardcore of Converge or Dillinger with a more meditated, nuanced post-rock approach, meaning Braille comes across as music first, and genre second, and brilliant somewhere before both of those. With no disrespect to their thrash-and-burn peers or past, this is intelligent hardcore, songs constantly twisting and turning, with labyrinthine guitar work almost a background noise to the emotional front-line. Tracks like Coalesce and Inertia have more than a little of the Black Peaks about them, lurching from light to shade like Blackhole in a fight with Don Broco, creating a constantly engaging, swirling vortex of ideas, while the meatier likes of Swarm and Like A Wave carry enough of that old crunch to satisfy the urge to purge, while still retaining that ability to spin on a penny at will. Engorging and engaging from start to finish, and never allowing space for the listener to truly know what’s coming next, Braille carries a little of the Grey Britain about it, in the way it sounds like the band have given themselves one last chance to push the boundaries of what is expected of them, and really, shouldn’t all albums be made like that? An astounding, emotional body of work that deserves to force Palm Reader into the limelight.
Braille is out now via Silent Cult