Album Review: La Palma – Moonflower

Moonflower is the kind of album you can get lost in. It’s twelve tracks of dreamy melodic indie pop that come courtesy of Washington DC-based duo La Palma.

By Graeme Smith

La Palma are Chris Walker and Tim Gibbon. They released their self-titled album in 2019. Since then, they’ve both moved location, Tim became the father of a new baby and a pandemic hit. None of this stopped them working on their second album Moonflower and I for one am grateful for it.

Passing like a golden thread through the opening tracks of Moonflower is a feeling of bliss. The electronic layers swell and transcend the carnal matter of Earth. Yet, all the space-age, Nirvana-inducing instrumentals hide a more earthly message. “If not now, then when?” track four Forsythia asks. Straight after that acoustic guitar-led Ohio opens with the foreboding line “I hope I see you tomorrow.” These are stories of relationships and being a vulnerable member of the human race, just like the rest of us.

La Palma named the album Moonflower because of the recurring nocturnal and floral themes that run through the album. Musically it feels appropriate too. Melodies bloom and then fold themselves back to sleep – both during the album’s bright points but also during its darkest moments. A fine example is Nostomania which echoes Forsythia’s “if not now, then when?” refrain.

The album’s acoustic interlude that starts with Ohio concludes with the oddly-confessional Take Off My Glasses. Quicky electronics and Casio-keyboard percussion take on the baton during the Animal Collective-esque Everything. The repeating phrase “everything’s fine” sounds as if the narrator is trying to convince himself of the fact. The track concludes with a return to the wary acoustic guitar to flows through to High Wind Knife, a ghostly track that floats eerily.

Moonflower is very much a personal project for Tim and Chris. It gave them a way to feel connected during a time of disconnection and something to focus on when thoughts became disjointed. There is a risk that, when creating music for yourself, you alienate your potential audience. The guys have side-stepped it here. Rather, by making music for themselves I think they’ve tapped into something universal, an uneasiness in all of us that we sometimes deny and usually wish wasn’t there. This feeling expresses that feeling and exposes its own unique beauty. The message for me was: embrace it. It’s who we are.

Check out Moonflower below. You can connect with La Palma by heading over to their website.