Pop and art-punk collide seamlessly in Palberta’s latest album entitled Palberta5000. The New York trio of Nina Ryser, Lily Konigsberg and Ani Ivry-Block have been releasing their experimental style of punk for nearly a decade now, with this latest offering stretching the boundaries of how scrappy a punk song can be while still getting stuck on your head. There’s an air of instability to the sound of this record as the three women switch instruments as fluidly as they please. This however is balanced by their vocal performances and keen ear for great melodies. Further in, one may realize that Ryser, Konigsberg and Ivry-Block are fully in sync, except when they choose not to. This is something that may pose as a steep learning curve for the regular pop listener, but a few songs in and starts to click. Harmonies and lines can meld and veer off just as often, but somehow always end with fun and satisfying resolutions. It’s playful to the point of delirium, enjoyable in all its weirdness.
Opener “No Way” exemplifies this perfectly, a pop song with great background vocals accompanied by off-kilter drums and randomly phasing instruments — all converging seamlessly to a great sing-along end. “Big Bad Want” and “Fragile Place” all start in a tapestry of raucous sounds, but with repetition and good hooks they suddenly evolve into hypnotic dance grooves. “Eggs n’ Bac’” is one of the most tense punk cuts in the bunch, with a rhythm that’s pulled at the seams during the first half, but at its midpoint flows and weaves into a cohesive banger to the end.
Despite these seemingly bold and avante-garde experiments, one can find that these are ultimately great songs to sing and dance along with. “Hey!” is an off-kilter jam of angular string work that feels like a bottle of lightning that was given time to let loose.. “Red Antz” to me is where the vocals shine. Something that closely resembles a punk hymnal if there was one, where angelic melodies dance along with wacky sounds. “Summer Sun” is smooth, bright and hops along with girl group vigor. “Corner Store” is the closest thing to a love song in this collection. An endearing song — the kind that could play out of a teenage romance meet-cute scene.
Other highlights include “Something in the Way”, with its choral arrangement that glides through rough guitar breakdowns and the favorite “The Way That You Do” where the trio comes in full state of flow. Soaring and dipping into extremes of emotion in a wonderful way.
Palberta’s world is weird and wild, with a gentleness that is uniquely their own. It’s punk that bites and pop that shines, a group like no other and one you should check out.