Dry Food might be Palehound’s debut LP, but there’s a familiar rawness to the album that’s immediately recognizable. Ellen Kempner, Palehound’s singer & guitarist, tackles that stage a lot of millennials and twenty-somethings have been experiencing for the past decade – the evolution to adulthood, growing up, “adulting.”
Subjects of teenage sorrow, relationship angst, and hopes for success in love inform these eight tracks – all of which sound like living room or bedroom recordings. Dry Food is not an album for the sake of fluff; it’s documenting Ellen Kempner’s personal segue into those foggy, early 20s years.
Kempner seems to be paralleling her personal segue into adulthood with her talents as a musician, as well. Dry Food, with its guitar textures, sharp-yet-lo-fi drums, production, and vibe is a refreshing profile on a new artist that’s coming into their own. Dashes of Speedy Ortiz, Colleen Green, St. Vincent and Mac Demarco peek through on some of these tracks, but Kempner’s broad-minded rawness makes Dry Food so endearing. It’s cathartic.
If the guitar antics on opener ‘Molly’ doesn’t grab you, then I can’t help you. If the title track is too earnest for you, I can’t help you there either. Can’t get into the Demarco-esque vibe of ‘Cinnamon’? C’mon. Unable to appreciate the reflective songwriting on ‘Dixie’? Dude, you’re missing the big picture.
Dry Food is an exciting snapshot of Palehound’s true beginning. It’s a band that, in a few years, people will be quick to claim “I listened to their debut years ago” when the populace comes around to their work. If you really enjoy finding new bands and organically following their process, output and quality, then I’d recommend listening to Dry Food and keeping an eye out for them in the near future.