Drunken Palms’ debut EP, Later, was a long time coming. Katelyn Mundal (vocals/bass) and Mac Pogue (drums) formed the band in 2014, and added Alex Hebler on guitar/backing vocals a year later. They performed as a three-piece until Pogue moved out of state in 2016. Now Mundal handles the beats, and Hebler adds sparse but emphatic guitar tones. Later is a beautiful culmination of re-recorded demos, new songs, and even a cover of U2’s “With or Without You.”
Despite the fact that Later was recorded without a drummer, it’s Drunken Palms’ fullest, most dynamic work to date. Its melodies are built from drum machine beats, loops, synth, and Cocteau Twins-esque vocals that sound ghostly, like they’re echoing off the pews of an empty cathedral. The EP begins with the bright, airy “Loop 5 (Now We Can Speak Louder).” Mundal sings, “Let the right ones in, let me feed from their fires,” and Hebler responds with a gentle guitar riff as the synth loop softens to a whisper without fully snuffing out.
At its core, Later is goth music meant for slow dances. Mundal’s lyrics reflect jumbled, shifting emotions, making songs about heartbreak sound somehow triumphant (“Floating”) and renditions of pop anthems sound utterly hopeless (“With or Without You”). The EP’s closer, “Pause Romance,” begins with foggy synth and droning bass as Mundal sings, “Don’t move, don’t move/They’re watching/It’s slow moving around this,” like a teenager deciding whether or not to ask their crush to dance while surrounded by judgmental classmates. When Hebler’s guitar kicks in, an overwhelming anxiety builds and Mundal softly chants, “Let it all wash over me, let it all wash over me, let it all wash over me.” Each guitar note lingers for an extra second, as if asking to savor this waning moment, and then it just ends. With Later, Drunken Palms gives it all and you want more—a great debut leaves you with that feeling.