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Palm Reader’s Sleepless: boundary-pushing brilliance from Brit hardcore mavericks

UK heavyweights Palm Reader mark their 10th anniversary with their greatest album yet in the shape of Sleeplesss

Palm Reader: Sleepless album cover
(Image: © Church Road)

It’s crazy to think that 2020 marks Palm Reader’s 10th year as a band. Where many of their contemporaries have succumbed to defeat or simply given up, Palm Reader have not only soldiered on but quietly sharpened their instincts and honed their songwriting craft with each successive release.

If you’ve slept on Palm Reader thus far, now’s the time to wake the fuck up.

Building upon an already solid foundation of 2013’s Bad Weather and 2015’s Beside The Ones We Love – albums that saw them frequently described as the UK’s answer to The Dillinger Escape Plan – 2018’s Braille was hailed by fans as a stunning, cohesive record of epic contrasts, one that transcended the invisible boundaries that gatekeepers often erroneously apply to any band with a background in hardcore. Sleepless, the band’s fourth full-length, pushes the boundaries once again and puts into stark perspective the absurdity of trying to pigeonhole one of the most creative, heavy acts the UK currently has to offer. The form that heaviness takes is far more nuanced, disciplined and above all captivating than anything we’ve heard from Palm Reader before.

Rather than resort to the usual tired clichés of volume for volume’s sake, Sleepless is beautifully dynamic. The proceeding quiet on A Bird And Its Feathers makes the ensuing sonic storm sound particularly apocalyptic, while the Fender Rhodes synth on Ending Cycle calls to mind the likes of Radiohead and the shimmering guitars towards the song’s end evoke Glaswegian post-rock legends Mogwai.

That’s not to say Palm Reader have abandoned their roots, as just a cursory listen to the furious Stay Down will attest, but it says a lot that Sleepless is at its strongest when Palm Reader dive deep into hitherto unexplored territory. If you’ve slept on Palm Reader thus far, now’s the time to wake the fuck up. Sleepless is a distinct, idiosyncratic, beautifully crafted heavy album that it would be simply criminal to ignore.