During my first go-around with Ricky’s Palm Trees I never would have imagined the record was inspired by and written during the 2019-2020 period, yet once I’ve gotten deeper into it’s lyrics and moods in subsequent listens it suddenly becomes apparent. Ricky Schmidt’s melodies and sound choices for his debut record is full of summery vibes, dreamy power pop with lively hooks and great energy, with so much vibrance that I hardly noticed the darker themes lying underneath. I’ve gotten a delirious sense of fun with opener “Bored” and its following track “Hot Summer”. The former track gallops around with surfy riffs, with a rollicking organ and tambourines to top it off. The next is a beach anthem with a side of complaining about the weather. Perhaps it’s my jovial mood coming into it that influenced my perception, but a lot of it comes down to clever songwriting. Bored talks about our overall sentiment during the pandemic while the weather musings on Hot summer encompasses the challenging social and political climate of our time, cunningly veiled as an escapist indie rock dream. The experience of being willfully blindsided has made repeat listens even better, as the contrasting somber and bright hints of Palm Trees left me coming back for more.

Every track has its highlights and there’s a lot nuances with each arrangement. Tyson “Chicken” Annicharico of Dead To Me has done a great job on production, creating a lively atmosphere with relatively simple elements. Claps, chimes and reverb adds much light to “New Day” while Ricky contrasts it with a downward melodic movement, as he ponders on having subsequent bad days. “Sicksicksix” is another one of my favorites, an overall dark song but with playful rhythms that will keep you on your toes. “Social Me” is lavished with overflowing sarcasm and bitterness — a total antithesis to its title. Featuring the best chorus of the album: “No one really gives a shit – the more you know, the less you know.”

Palm Trees is a thoroughly entertaining album that’s full of surprises. Ricky has done a good job with his first solo stint with much potential for future greatness. This is an artist we’ll definitely keep our eyes on.