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Palberta – Bye Bye Berta

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With Bye Bye Berta, Palberta remind you how short bold expressions can be. Pinned melodies marinate with tuba warbles and basslines—also bass guitared—and guitars shronk like migrating goose necks. Like a moving theater company, Palberta inflate and deflate each of the twenty songs that make Bye Bye Berta with the brevity of a drill. Scratchy guitars scuttle over Moe Tucker beats, bingeing on “Honey”-dripped melodies, a clunky take on “Staying Alive,” sudden harmonies, and blasts distantly related to the Raincoats’ “Go Away.” In a suite of songs that feel like a riddled confluence of whispers, giggles, and personal thoughts of oppression, Palberta illustrate how a couple of sounds can be a song and how a pulled leg can be a harmony.

 

Something that seems uniquely Palberta is an acute, indirect “fuck-you”-ness that one might imagine a New Yorker writer would misunderstand and snarl about, the same kind of snarl in the reviews that would define the Cherry Sisters’ legacy. Should the Cherry Sisters be considered the godmothers of the art-rock/post-punk? The pre-predecessors of the LiLiPUTs, the L. Voags? In some ignored history, could Palberta be their greater grandchildren? Palberta have a vague vaudevillian quality mustered in their chops, etched in their DNA, but it’s not one that distracts, like an orange Trojan Horse with a floppy power tie. They don’t directly say “fuck you,” but they indirectly do, in a way, by taking up their own curiosities. In some blessed world, they’re resuscitating a Dada DIY that died on a tomato-drenched vaudeville stage.

 

At its most tender, Bye Bye Berta embalms you with the yolky glow of lights from a Chinese take-out place. And at its most vicious, it’s a ham-handed hickey. The same ways that it’s subtle are the same ways it’s obvious. This inside-out-ness makes it feel like a peaceful napalm. While other artists are out making ocean sounds, or sounds to get lost in, Palberta provide the krill, making familiar sounds unfamiliar and dizzying, and scratching the itch of your sequestered, weird thoughts. A streamlined high, Bye Bye Berta feels like condensed parade music proudly marching the wrong way down a one-way street.

 

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