The sophomore release from electro-dubcore rockers, Palisades, is the most aptly named album released in the last few years. Mind Games tells it like it is pushing the genre boundaries to see just how many styles of metal can be successfully combined with the EDM and Top 40 world. This record will leave you asking yourself Just what the hell am I listening to, and why do I like it so much?
The New Jersey sextet clearly draws inspiration from across the media sphere. The catchy pop clean vocals utilized on “No Chaser” belong more in a hit single dropped by The Wanted than on a metalcore album, but then are perfectly juxtaposed by the roaring guitars laid over a real drum and bass electro riff. When tracks like “True Blood” bump on your mp3 player, the disconnect of genres is even greater, yet just as enjoyable. Beginning with raw unclean vocals by Lou Miceli and a jazz influenced bass drop the only logical follow up is a jump into a strong clean vocal chorus that will get your head bobbing to the beat.
This clubby vibe continues with tracks like “Bad Girls” pairing Brandon Sidney’s soulful cleans to Miceli’s scratchy croons. The highlight of this track, though, remains the distorted vocal camouflaged into a back beat subtly telling us this girl’s “Got ’em all whipped” flared off with a sample of Cher Lloyd’s “Want U Back.” “Bad Girls” is the perfect summary of Mind Games displaying how neither the vocals, instrumentals or electronics dominate or overpower the track. They all come together as one seamless mesh keeping listeners on their toes.
The real gems on this album come from the almost entirely radio-friendly nature of several tracks. “Afraid” would only be looked away from the public eye because of its fall back on distortion pedals leaving it with a true punk goes pop style all its own. In a similar fashion, the album’s title track, featuring Champs, represents one of Mind Games‘ strongest moments. Though it uncharacteristically neglects musicianship in favor of electronic dance beats -it is the only track to rely so heavily on that side –it’s highly catchy chorus will be stuck in your head all week. “I thought you were crazy in love/but you were just crazy, oh oh” would fit right into a DJ’s set blasted at a New York nightclub. And when Champ’s rap-to-breakdown comes in, the hardcore kid in you will spaz in joy.
For a predominantly strong record showing that Palisades has found a method to tactfully combine so many currently relevant genres, they fall a little flat with tracks like “Like A Drug” and the album’s anchor, “Come Over and Watch Netflix.” Both tracks try a little too hard to uphold the pretty flawless transitions between metal, dubstep, and mainstream pop carried throughout the rest of Mind Games and feel slightly too forced compared to the solid production of the album overall.
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Mind Games is a record that will pump you up, whether you’re pre-gaming, road tripping, or just jamming on your couch with your friends. These New Jersey rockers really hit the nail on the head by summarizing the entire nature of the music world right now: one big mesh of “I don’t know how to classify this.” From classic hardcore breakdowns to Ultra-worthy bass drops to boy band hooks, Mind Games is sure to ignite a good time and a great direction for Palisades to trek through. (Natasha Van Duser)