Whether living four states away or four blocks away, Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme have always used the Internet, at first out of necessity, later out of preference, to collaborate on their songwriting. Although the cousins grew up together in Lafayette, Louisiana, Donohue eventually moved to San Francisco, while Prudhomme stayed near New Orleans.
The newfound distance between them forced the pair to start sending song ideas back and forth via e-mail, a virtual exchange that quickly spawned Painted Palms’ first release, Canopy, which was discovered by of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes. Tours with of Montreal, Braids and STRFKR soon followed before Prudhomme moved out west to San Francisco, where Donohue still lived. Yet, despite being in the same place for the first time in years, the duo continued writing songs apart from one another, completing individual ideas in isolation and piecing them together through the computer.
And so, the songs that would eventually form their debut full-length Forever, came together as if the musicians were still separated by 2000 miles: Donohue sending a short, looping beat and Prudhomme replying with a vocal melody before continuing to bounce the track back and forth between them until it was complete, this time focusing on creating songs with classic pop structures.
As if crafted by tailors so skilled you can never find the seams, the songs on Forever provide no hint of their patchwork beginnings. Instead, the album is permeated with blissfully buoyant tracks like “Here It Comes” and “Forever,” which glide smoothly on a foundation of instantly memorable melodies. Elsewhere, touches of Painted Palms’ most prominent influences, ‘60s psych pop paired with modern electronic production, are clearly evident, as on the dark and driving hooks that propel lead single “Spinning Signs.”
Don’t be fooled, though. Underneath the sunny sonic exterior, the lyrics on Forever exist in a different place, with much of the focus centered on how it feels to be caught between the external world and one’s own thoughts. “Thinking about myself too much I can see that / I don’t know what to be,” sings Prudhomme on Forever’s title cut. And in that moment a hint of irony is apparent, for as much as the members of Painted Palms want to get out of their own heads, they’re awfully good at writing songs that will immediately get stuck in yours.