Bellows – “Thick Skin”

Brooklyn art collective The Epoch already has three great releases to its name this year — Florist’s The Birds Outside Sang, Eskimeaux’s Year Of The Rabbit mini-album and, just last week, Told Slant’s Going By — and it’s about to add a fourth in the form of Bellows’ Fist & Palm. Bellows is the recording project of Oliver Kalb, who also plays in Eskimeaux and Told Slant, and Fist & Palm is the follow-up to 2014’s fantastic Blue Breath, and it also marks something of a stylistic departure. While Kalb flirted with more synthetic elements on his earlier work (or was at least focused on making the organic sound synthetic) — most memorably on tracks like “Blue Breath, Rosy Death” and “White Sheet” — nothing approached the bombast or immediacy of “Thick Skin,” Fist & Palm’s lead single.

“Thick Skin” is imbued with wonder from the jump: “Staring out your car window, I feel my size,” Kalb sings, his voice glossy and buoyant. “Hudson Palms, the Catskills Gulf Stream — the world’s alive!” It’s about wanting to open yourself up to the vastness of the world, knowing that the great big unknown can be harsh and terrifying and deciding to embrace it anyway. At one point, the whole band chimes in: “Don’t wanna leave the earth, even for a moment!” That radiating optimism reminds me a lot of fellow positivity purveyors Terror Pigeon; coupled with Kalb’s penchant for Sufjan Stevens-style dramatics, “Thick Skin” feels pretty invincible. Listen below.

Tracklist:
01 “You Are A Palm Tree”
02 “Orange Juice”
03 “Thick Skin”
04 “Bummer Swells”
05 “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter”
06 “O Joy”
07 “A Sordid Ending”
08 “Bully”
09 “Beauty”
10 “Dark Heart”
11 “From The Palms”

Fist & Palm is out 9/30 via Double Double Whammy. Pre-order it here.

Tags: Bellows