Hearts Of Palm UK – For Life

The heart of the California band Hearts Of Palm UK is Erica Elektra, who, along with collaborators Frankie Rose, Jamie Kaye, and Dan Horne, deliver a debut album filled with songs that smoothly flow from one to the other, creating a gently percolating, upbeat vibe that is balanced by bittersweet, introspective lyrics, and Erica’s sweetly mellow vocals.

The album was mastered in Sweden by Henrik Jonsson who has worked with bands like Peter, Bjorn & John, Camera Obscura, and The Concretes. Like those bands, Hearts Of Palm UK has a light, soft, intricate sound that is built from a variety of instrumentation including an array of keyboards, drums, guitars, and strings. Erica takes on the themes of romantic relationships and self-identity with direct, affecting lyrics and a warm, but oftentimes wistful tone.

While some of Erica’s song lyrics are pure blissful sunshine in relation to love and purpose in life, it’s not all dreamy doodles of hearts and flowers. There’s heartbreak and thundershowers too. Many of the lyrics have a melancholic edge, like on “So Long” which sports the aching pull of the words “Life is hard. / I’m doing my best / but is it good enough? / Days keep going forward / without me.” The lyrics speak to an emotional turmoil most people face every day, a running commentary on the ups and downs in relationships and of being uncertain about one’s place in the world.

Buoyant, catchy, perky beats and blips and flitting, snappy clicks and clacks are subtly contrasted with the undercurrent of rumbling keyboard and bass line and short-phrase, sing-talking lyrics about conflicted emotions and having to say goodbye. On the song “People & Logistics” Erica wonders why her “Feelings are unclear. / I don’t understand / what makes them so. / How come I’m happy / – and then I come crashing down?” amid a blend of woodwind and harp-like notes, strings, and a clicking beat.

Squiggly keyboard notes, bell tones, a handclap beat, and bubbling sounds accompany the smooth, longing chorus of “…so I flow / chasing…dreams… / Where will the wind / take me?” on the tune “I Flow”. Erica questions the commitment of a loved one on “Portugal”, asking “What if I were to drop everything? / Would you follow me?” against a skittering beat, attenuated, spacey organ notes, and the bright ting of bells.

For all of the lyrics that focus on feelings of uncertainty and melancholy (like the lyrics of “Trust”: “It’s a scary world out there… / what if I lose myself? / What if you find yourself / where you are?”), there are also certain songs that convey a belief in romantic love, like on the hazy, high-school-crush song “Jonathan FMF” where Erica sings in a sweet, comforting tone “I’m so happy to spend my life beside you. / I love, love, love, love you.” with a laid-back tambourine beat, cymbal shimmer, and delicate tinkling music box notes that impart the blissful feeling of being in love.