From the font to the faux-retro quality of the photograph, the cover for “Faces,” the debut album from Sydney Eloise & The Palms, looks like it was pulled straight off a 1970s LP. That’s appropriate for musicians who seem to be happy to draw from any and every era of popular music.
The album’s opening track, “Always Smiling,” could have been an alt-pop single in the mid-’90s. “Gentleman,” the second track, jumps ahead by a decade, upbeat and poppy, but grounded with a more mature melancholy.
By the time the electric organ plays the first notes of the third track, a lilting ballad called “Tell Me What I Want to Hear,” you’ll know to abandon any expectations. Even within this one song, the feel changes at the three-quarters mark into a circus-theme-inspired bridge, before setting back into the original form.
Eloise’s voice is the main selling point for the band. She has the same sort of gravelly projection that has made careers for singers like Neko Case, Karen O and Jennifer Nettles, a timbre that manages to be earthy while also cutting through with knife-like clarity.
Keep your eye on Sydney Eloise & The Palms. With their ability to blend innovation with pop appeal, and their willingness to explore numerous genres, it’s safe to expect at least one sequel to “Faces,” if not many more.