In 2014, Ace Martens released their first EP, Silent Days. Eleanor Wearing, writing for Weird Canada described it as a “Lunar Daydream.” Fast-forward 2 years and we have the second EP, Palm Springs. DIY weird-pop is still the platform, only now instead of inspiring daydreams of walking on the moon, the overall effect is more akin to a hallucination in Southern California or experiencing a mirage in the Joshua Tree desert.
This is not surprising seeing as the EP is titled Palm Springs, featuring a track with the eponymous name and another entitled “Desert Highway.” The latter creates this sun-scorched mood exceptionally. Ace’s guitar has such intense vibrato that you can almost feel the heat waves hazing in the background, comparable to the midday sun beating down. Sarah Cordingley’s driving drum beat leads the track as it traces out your slow plod through the desert. These differing elements combine to create a powerful image of scorching fantasy.
Trippy elements are constant throughout the tape, underpinning all five tracks. The warm haze seeps into you and leaves you daydreaming about the fast-approaching summer. However, the EP does get a little samey if you’re not giving it your full listening attention.
If you give this EP the time it deserves and delve under the surface, you‘ll uncover something special. “On To Me” is a tender pop song about unfaithful love, “Looks like she’s coming onto me / You’re special baby.” The track features is an immensely catchy synth hook. It’s a real album highlight and impossible not to whistle for the rest of the day.
Elsewhere on “Somebody Else,” as Ace sings “It’s been a while since I needed somebody else,” he oozes Alex Turner-esque debauched swagger. This is immediately followed by very similar sentiments on “Baby Blue.” But here he sounds delicate and almost vulnerable, singing “I see myself in your mirror / I see myself so much clearer.”
It’s these contrasting effects that make Palm Springs an interesting listen. They showcase Ace Martens’ ability to create great sundrenched pop. The task now is to combine this with a lunar daydream and create a full length album that shows us their full box of tricks. I’d be willing to bet that they’ll do just that.