New Music Express

June 26, 1993

Idaho: The Palms EP (Quigley)


A quartet of sad but beautiful elegies from the LA duo Jeff Martin and John Berry, one classically trained pianist and one punk drifter, who appear to have found common ground in a form of blackened guitar sorrow-song that makes REM sound like a bunch of Japanese cheerleaders. Martin has a voice that appears to have been squatting in a tobacco shop for the past decade. Berry plays grind-chord guitar like he’s doing a soundtrack for Death Row. But from their agreed starting points of disintegration and loss the pair build distinctive, memorable monuments to desolation.

The waves of violated guitar in ‘Creep’ support a bruised and poignant vocal melody. ‘Fail Around’ leaps out of introspection into a burst of cathartic power chords. ‘Gone’ hovers melancholically. ‘You Are There’ sinks wonderfully into refracted nightmarish distress. It’s a kind of Swans version of Dinosaur Jr, and the fact that it’s wide open to accusations of gloomy self-indulgence confirms that it’s well worth investigating.