Released earlier this year, Dundalk indie band Permanent Déjà Vu’s ‘Palace in Flames’ is a diverse collection of intimate love songs and upbeat rock numbers that defies conventional description or classification, but deserves plenty of attention.
The second album from Permanent Déjà Vu, ‘Palace in Flames’ displays as much willingness to experiment and refusal to conform to typical pop expectations as its 2011 predecessor ‘Cinematic Love’. What sets ‘Palace in Flames’ apart however, is how catchy the whole thing is, and how infectious this collection of songs becomes, despite not being quite like anything else out there at the moment.
The most prominent recurring theme on the album is the exploration of dreams, forming the titles of Simultaneous Dreams and Dangerous Dreams as well as a key lyrical theme in several other songs. Indeed the band’s unique sound has above all else a dreamlike quality, from their melodic piano driven rhythms to the dreamy, hypnotic interplay between vocalists Gavin and Grace Wynne. The resulting effect is a contrast between light and darkness that is evident on nonchalantly haunting tracks like Behind the Door – a dark and powerful song with a cinematic quality.
The real centrepiece of the album is Dark Heat, Dark Love, a very catchy track driven by a powerfully building drum and bass rhythm and a throng of darkly poetic lyrics, which suggest an influence from Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, or possibly Lou Reed.
Elsewhere the tone shifts from upbeat, fast-paced rockers like Simultaneous Dreams to the slow, melodic and tender tracks like Photographic Memory and Lonely Night To Sleep Without You. Photographic Memory in particular features some of the most achingly beautiful lyrics on the entire album, with lines like: “Speckled portrait/ Vivid but faded/ tells a story of new love/ saturated with nostalgia.” Permanent Déjà Vu are most definitely not afraid to experiment with a host of directions, even going so far to add a violin to the final track on the album Miles to go… giving the albums closing moments a folk infused resonance.
If anything the band’s strangely evocative name is a bit of a misnomer. ‘Palace in Flames’ does just about everything it can to escape the déjà vu of recognition caused by artists who imitate their influences. Instead they have broken through to a totally unique sound, and with their second release, they have proven that this sound is truly their own.