Palaris - The Pros and Cons of Redemption
Record Label: Blue Duck Records
Release Date: August 21, 2007
I'd like to live in one of those crookedly-positioned-hotels-on-the-sea pictured on the album cover of Palaris' The Pros and Cons of Redemption. Wherever they are, the place has to be one of the most beautiful man made places on Earth (they're obviously Photoshopped, but that still counts as "man made"). Of course, I may be misinterpreting the album cover completely. On the back of the CD, a depiction of the same scene, but with the sea dried up and one of the hotels have collapsed, lets me down. Though the meaning of the art is not quite clear (as most album covers aren't), my guess is that the album cover is not a scene of serenity, but a scene representing the draining of something dear to the heart of someone. But enough of this speculation.
Much like the album art, Palaris can be a deceiving band. At the surface, they're your typical cookie cutter pop/rock act, calling to mind the likes of The Academy Is or Acceptance. If you delve a little bit deeper, however, you'll notice that The Pros and Cons of Redemption is a fun little gem that makes it the perfect candidate if you're looking for something casual to listen to. That's as far as the music runs at least.
Delve deeper still and all of a sudden, Palaris aren't fit for a casual listen anymore. The music may be poppy, but the lyrics will assault listeners with urgency and ferocious honesty. "We know it all too well that life's become a game / But they'll see what's in store / When truth and justice rise / ... I am afraid our tears are saved for ourselves / We're not the saints who take the time to draw the line between feared and afraid / Keep our hands on our eye and our world stays the same" warns the desperate "Life As a Game," a song inspired by the Invisible Children crisis going on in Africa. To revisit the album art, the lyrics booklet intensely portrays an overflowing dam, as if to suggest that there's a much deeper meaning to the album than just catchy pop/rock.
While the lyrics don't necessarily allow for a relaxing listen (though there are some generic relationship lyrics too), the music most certainly does and that is where this album loses some steam. I can't help but wish for either darker tunes or brighter lyrics, but not both because the contrast can be bemusing and frusturating to listen to. That's really the only shortcoming I could find with the album.
Otherwise, The Pros and Cons of Redemption is a fun, albeit generic, record. Musically, Palaris are the same stuff music enthusiasts hear all the time, but I think the formula works. They're not trying to be too experimental; instead, they're channeling their love for music and ability to be mature through a venue they're familiar with and enjoy doing. If the band could develop to match the passion they have against injustice with a musical backdrop that fits, the relatively unknown Palaris could go a long way.