Copenhagen-based Palace Winter comprise the Australian Carl Coleman and Dane Caspar Hesselager, the former a singer coming from a song-writing background and the latter a producer and classically trained pianist. Their debut single was released in 2015, followed by an EP and in the summer of 2016 came their debut album, ‘Waiting for the World to Turn’ followed by 2018’s ‘Nowadays’; all released via the wonderfully named Copenhagen label Tambourhinoceros.
They’ve gleaned a fair bit of support already in the UK from various 6Music DJs, which is unusual.
Their style is cinematic psych-pop and the sort of “hypnotic and mind-blowing” live sets the like of which have secured them an opening spot for Noel Gallagher.
This track, ‘Top of the Hill’ (which features Soffie Viemose of dream-pop band Lowly) is from Palace Winter’s forthcoming (October) album ‘...Keep Dreaming, Buddy’, which was written through a long distance correspondence while Coleman was living in Tenerife last winter and Hesselager was in Copenhagen.
The song’s lyrics evoke images of Tenerife but ‘Top of the Hill’ is a tale of two cities. The music video juxtaposes scenes from Copenhagen with the lyrics’ scenes from Tenerife as actress Carla Viola Thurøe engages in a trippy walk around the city in the same manner that we can picture Hesselager doing the same last year, turning the song’s unfinished beats around in his head, then enjoys a ciggie back in her apartment while staring into a crystal ball.
The “hill” is Mt. Tiede on Tenerife, a volcano. The top of this hill is a metaphor for a relationship: the higher the singer climbs up the slopes of his relationship, the closer he gets to the boiling lava inside of him – the destructive forces that can awake from slumber at any moment, and send him tumbling down.
Thematically, Coleman describes the single as being “essentially the centrepiece of the whole record”.
I think I’ve described the background to this well enough by now, so what of the song?
I’ve listened to it a couple of times but can’t find a definitive response yet. The verses plod somewhat but the chorus, which frames the lines “made it up the hill, living on dust and pills” is based around a strong, tuneful and pleasing synth contribution. I suspect it’s a slow burner where that chorus melody and lyric will eventually burn into your memory at the expense of the verses.
Coleman and Hesselager wanted to broaden their horizons on the new record, exploring hip-hop beats, 70s soul, 80s electronics and 90s guitars. Well at least two of those (hip-hop beats and 80s electronics) are evident here. But I’m still struggling to reconcile Guy Garvey’s observation that when he was a young man he would have gone on long walks with their tracks on a loop on his tape recorder.
Palace Winter are one of few bands with tour dates in the UK right now but you’ll have to wait until March 2021:
16th March - London - Lafayette
17th March - Manchester - Gorilla
19th March - Leeds - Wardrobe
20th March - Glasgow - King Tuts
22nd March - Bristol - Thekla
23rd March - Brighton - Pattern