It is a bitter-sweet time for post-punk with most modern outfits becoming a parody of the pioneers by fixating on assimilating sonic texture over bringing the same substance that made us fall in love with the genre in the first place. Palais Ideal, consisting of John Edwards and Richard van Kruysdijk, who have previously collaborated with members of Wire, Bauhaus, Christian Death, Coil, Legendary Pink Dots and Swans, are the refreshingly existential antithesis.
The Netherlands-hailing duo’s seminal 2021 album, Negative Space, is an existential howl into the void where the façade of common sense, decency, and dignity existed. Every high-octane hook that draws you deeper into this manifesto of an LP resonates as an act of resistance.
With its Kessler-Esque guitars cutting through the caustic overflow of the vintage synths, the harbinger of an opening single, The Overseer, makes a meal out of your rhythmic pulses as the lyrics and vocals affirm that not every sane mind has been cowed into radio silence.
Results is a riotously electric post-punk indie earworm with enough anthemic power to minuscule the production on your dust scattered records paired with an intuitive mix of light and dark aural ephemera, the kind of balance that allowed the Smiths to reign indie supreme. Metaphorically, this maturation of the Sweet and Tender Hooligan has picked up plenty of vitriol since he declared that in the midst of life, we are in death, and rightly so. There is no abyss deep enough to absolve the sins committed through our collective lack of self-awareness.
With a Richey Edwards-style lyrical opener, “self-obsessed is so indulgent, why live in oblivion?”, Reject the Anaesthetic instantly became a paradoxically enlivening highlight. In contradiction to the demands of the title, the even-kilter guitars, melodic basslines and percussion that is tighter than the government’s welfare budget start to deliver the psych-tinged soporific aural medicine to prove just how easy it is to pacify people into suggestibility.
The Voice of Reason is so beautifully just that. Just when you think you have Palais Ideal pegged, the compassion starts to pour, coming from a well of unequivocal understanding for ultimate sucker-punching consolation.
Anything for a Thrill is a frenetic continuation of Reject the Anaesthetic, which strips the glamour right off the back of the libertine. It is gorgeously bold in its unapologeticness when holding people accountable for chasing highs after their dreams have disintegrated around their own self-destruction.
Concluding with the moody industrial post-punk Posthuman cry, Age of Intransigence, Negative Space fades to a final close and leaves you wondering how you are going to contribute to society beyond passivity, ego, insecurity and pedestrianism (on a good day). If Palais Ideal started a cult, I’d be the first in line with goat blood on my hands.