Photo credit: Ben Howell
AuxCordFM is proud to present the fourth installment in our ‘Best of 2018’ albums countdown. The ten albums selected by Editor James Shotwell will be announced and celebrated through a series of essays. Click here to review the full list and follow us on Twitter for additional updates.
“Life is pain. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” – William Goldman, The Princess Bride
The arch of most bands is more predictable than marketers would like you to believe. Groups burst onto the national stage with songs influenced by teenage emotions and experiences, then tour until they can afford to record a second record. That album, more often than not, deals with the drawbacks to achieving one’s dreams of a life in music. Album three, if a group is lucky enough to have a third record, tries to balance the demands of business with the desires of the heart.
Erase The Pain, the fourth studio album from Palisades, finds the group reaching rarified air in the alternative realm. Not only has the Los Angeles based group outlasted many of their peers, but they have done so by subverting nearly every expectation placed upon them. They have their high school record (2013’s Outcasts), yes, but beyond that, the band has proven time and time again that they will not be placed in an easily labeled box. With each subsequent release, the members of Palisades challenge themselves and their audience to entertain the idea you can go deeper and be more experimental without sacrificing who you are. Erase The Pain is no exception. In fact, it might be the best example of who the band has been all along.
By accepting the fact pain is inevitable, Palisades open the door to healing. Erase The Pain recognizes the suffering in all our lives and demands that we refuse to let that torment define who we become. They know not everyone can agree to this, but they press on nonetheless, serving as both prophets and motivators to the disenfranchised. With his impassioned vocals, Lou Miceli sings of woes that we all relate to, and in doing so forges a bond with those who listen that enables them to feel less alone. The music then lifts the listener’s spirits, emboldening them to press onward in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, towards whatever happiness they seek in this life. It’s a thankless job in some respects, as so many are so obsessed with their own troubles that they cannot be bothered to care about the hurt of others, but it’s a role the members of Palisades are happy to accept.
“War,” the album’s lead single, is a perfect example of Palisades’ mission. The song deals with the struggle to push one’s ego aside in pursuit of a more meaningful life. “If you try to see through your sleeve,” Miceli sings, “you don’t have to be afraid.” Palisades want people to see themselves for who they are and to accept the things they are not. The song presses on, describing how “the devil always wins” when you pretend to be anything else, and how you only have yourself to blame when the lies you tell yourself lead to destruction. The only solution, as they see it, is through acceptance and self-love. That is harder than it sounds, but you can find comfort in the fact that it’s hard for everyone. We all wish to be things we are not, but when we let false ideas cloud our understanding of life things go awry that cannot be easily reversed. The only true path is the one built with honesty, and though it may not always be ideal, the destination is worth the work involved.
What Erase The Pain will do for the trajectory of Palisades’ career remains unclear. What is certain, however, is that this album possesses the ability to change lives and make the world a better place.