[CD Review] Hearts of Palm UK, 'For Life' (Hypnote Recording Concern)

Sparkling keyboards, humble beats, relatable lyrics and inviting vocals make for a winning indie-pop combination, as fans of Au Revoir Simone and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone can attest. The all-girl Echo Park trio Hearts of Palm UK—don’t ask about the UK—nail the formula within the opening seconds of their heartfelt debut, which oozes charm and humility from every pore.

Erica Electra is the band’s pop-loving maestro, spinning her most self-reflective moments into swooning triumphs of melody and emotion right from the album’s first line: “It’s hard to start this song ’cause you might be listening.” That same song—the sharply titled “People N Logistics”—later sneaks in the catchy refrain, “How come I’m happy, and then I come crashing down?” On the following “I Flow,” Electra admits over and over, “All I know is that I don’t know.”

Of course, none of this would work if she didn’t have such a soft, wounded singing voice and a knack for writing well-grounded songs that simmer and shiver while still snaking off into unexpected directions. She also has help in all the right places—Sonia Powell handles glockenspiel, keyboard and percussion, and Jamie Kaye plays cello, autoharp and keyboard (there are lots of keyboards here). Producer Dan Horne contributed guitar, bass, drums and more to the album.

But it’s Electra, who once played in Bay Area riot-grrrl group the Fancies, who drives home this bubbly fusion of folky love songs and glitch-y electronic production. If the idea of the Softies and the Postal Service making a record together excites you, For Life will even more so.

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