Palmistry Pagan Mixpak Records
Spending too much money on everything from your rent to your ride. Nightclubs closing down at an alarming rate. Relationships building up and breaking down. Cabs. Mates. The rave. Pagan – Benjy Keating’s debut album as Palmistry – is an earnest reflection on London’s lost youth. Through stark, tender RnB he pitches a calm strip of shade in an insufferable heat wave.
The album opens with Club ASO, a track that not only directly references Palmistry’s early material (“She love it when I sing Protector”) but also sees Keating return to familiar scenery. Club ASO is a post-club anthem that incorporates dulled laser shots and skittering dancehall-inflected beats over hyper-emotional lyrics. This concentrated, unmuted emotion plays out to great effect on Sweetness. Lyrically, Keating eschews the sexist tropes of many commercial artists, telling tales of passionate love and slow dancing over misogyny and graphic sexual imagery. It’s refreshing, for example, to hear “sweetness” used as a pronoun where you’d potentially expect to hear “bitch.”
The album’s three instrumental tracks are less inspiring, with Great Shall Be Your Piece in particular failing to back up Keating’s obvious ambitions as a producer. It’s a shame made greater considering how bright these ambitions can shine when Keating lays down his tempered vocals on tracks like the brilliant LDN shout out Paigon.
Between collaborations with Brooklyn label Mixpak and London fashion house Cottweiler, Palmistry is an artist on the cutting edge, and ultimately Pagan reflects this with its incessantly modern sound. If Keating can keep on top of the wave then album number two could be an earthmover.