Album of the Day: Palberta, “Roach Goin’ Down”

Palberta’s scruffy punk songs have such a sense of unvarnished hospitality that it can sound like the band is playing them in a room just for you. The New York trio’s fourth album, Roach Goin’ Down, builds on the off-the-cuff humor that populated their first three, piling on sung/screamed lyrics and sour guitar chords with an irreverent glee. It’s the longest record they’ve ever released, and also their most considered—for the first time, Palberta actually edited their songs after laying them to tape. But that doesn’t diminish the feeling of immediacy that has become the group’s trademark.

The three women of Palberta—Ani Ivry-Block, Lily Konigsberg, and Nina Ryser—all sing, often at once, on the band’s songs, which reinforces the impression of a tight-knit group of friends hanging out and goofing off. Despite the surface levity, several tracks on the record weave in a little darkness. “Who are you when you have nothing?” they sing on “Jaws’ Return”; on the slow, nearly mournful “Momentous Space-Up,” they bemoan “having a dream drop.” But the album’s most addictive songs tend to be the ones where the tempo and the snark run high. “Sound of the Beat,” with its repeated “heys!” and drifting guitar lines, somehow lands in the exact middle between The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” and the Arthur theme song, while album closer “Heaven to Rock n’ Roll” pokes fun at the artifice of Palberta’s technical status as a rock group. “Satellite! / Coming from the heavens of rock ‘n’ roll!” they yelp over a jagged bassline, simultaneously highlighting the silliness of their dude-dominated genre and establishing them as part of it. Rock, after all, tends to be best when it’s loose and fun, not overly polished or fixated on virtuosity. By leaving the seams of their sound exposed, Palberta make music that’s as inviting as it is invigorating.

-Sasha Geffen

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