The brainchild of US-based singer-songwriter Chris Frantz (not Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz), Palm Trees In Moscow is a unique, genre-defying project with a certain indescribable flair. Inspired by Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine, The Replacements and The 1975, Frantz traverses sounds and styles from yesteryear to modern-day music. Featured on Prism Reviews, Weise Words and various radio stations, Palm Trees In Moscow is not only popular in the US but grabbing attention across the globe.
Alright, I will admit that I was quite taken aback by the artist being Chris Frantz. Yes, I thought Talking Heads, but then again that dude is writing his memoirs and not creating music in his garage; although, I might be entirely incorrect. Back to Palm Trees In Moscow!
Originally formed as a three-piece garage band, Frantz started crafting solo tracks at home experimenting with shoegaze and dream-pop sounds. With help from “…a few guys who would put up with him for more than ten minutes” (his words, not mine), he began pumping out well-received singles and albums since 2017. The latest addition to his discography is ‘Blood In The Water’.
Following his post-punk single ‘Shocked and Delighted’, Frantz showcases his eclecticism in the new single ‘Blood In The Water’. Known for his ability to express frustration and feelings in an experimental way, ‘Blood In The Water’ is certainly something different. Unlike previous work, this single has an intricate arrangement with various textures and layers resulting a distorted piece of music. What I find intriguing is how there are elements of the typical garage rock band but also a prominent spoken word adding a bit of “oddness” to the melody. Yet, while there are numerous elements all clashing, there is an underlying flow to the complex track.
Except for the mastering process, courtesy of Mat Lefler-Schulman, ‘Blood In The Water’ is a DIY project using guitars, programming beats and rich vocals. As I mentioned above, there is an oddness to the track, and I think this lies primarily in the vocal arrangement. Frantz takes the role of the traditional singer while Kris Chinery adds backing vocals and Daniel Savitsky the spoken word. It seems as if, particularly in Savitsky’s case, there is a stream of consciousness woven through the kaleidoscopic sonic tapestry. This incorporation of styles and sounds could also contribute to the universal nature of the song with listeners interpreting the concept of relationship breakdowns in their own way.
Yes, the track has a deep, meaningful theme looking at a struggle for communication in an uncertain world, but this is not what astounds me. The melancholic lyricism is sensational; however, it is the melodic arrangement that shows Frantz’s true genius as an artist. A little uncomfortable to listen to at first, but definitely something worth everyone’s time.