Geoff Palmer’s 2019 solo debut Pulling Out All The Stops is a modern day pop punk classic. Given the acclaim he received for the record and his ability to write insanely catchy tunes with self-deprecating and funny lyrics, I’d expected Palmer to take a similar approach with his follow-up album Charts And Graphs. But no, on Charts And Graphs we see him expanding his sound, trying out new directions and instruments (pedal steel, organ, harmonica), and writing songs that are a bit longer. Before you get worried, Palmer definitely pulls it off with the help of a strong supporting cast including Zack Sprague, Dave Strong, Kris Rodgers, Perry Leenhouts and many others. The main difference is that whereas Pulling Out All The Stops had that instant sugar rush, Charts And Graphs is winning me over one song at a time – probably more healthy in the long run.
That isn’t to say the sugar rush has evaporated. Album openers Many More Drugs and Don’t Be provide the familiar classic pop punk we all love about Palmer’s previous outing. Every time I play Don’t Be, with its infectious truth-to-power chorus (Don’t Be, Don’t Be, An Asshole // Don’t Be, Don’t Be, A Jerk), it brings a smile to my face, but I am also thinking the song should be mandatory listening for anyone who posts on social media platforms. [post continues below]
This Monkey is the first song with a decidedly different sound. It’s mid-paced and has an arena glam rock vibe- Palmer mentioned White Reaper as an influence to his new record and I am hearing touches of that band in the song. It caught me off guard at first, but after multiple plays I’m all in. The middle part of the record may lack the pace of Pulling Out All The Stops, but makes up for that with memorable choruses and hooks. The Emma Tobin penned title track has an earworm chorus and an outstanding video. The vocal melody in Count Me In somehow reminds me of NOFX, and the line between verse and chorus is blurry yet catchy. Jammed Up is one of my favorites of the record, and the interplay between harmonica, guitar licks and vocals work particularly well in this song.
If you need any evidence that Charts And Graphs wears its influences on its sleeve, take a look at the closing third of the record. A Hard Day’s Life is a nod to the Beatles and Bob Dylan. What Would Paul Westerberg Do is a tribute to the man himself, musically and lyrically – how many Replacements references can you find in the track? To wrap things up, the album closes out with a fun cover of Tom Petty’s The Apartment Song.
On Charts And Graphs, Geoff Palmer celebrates his love for music and shares that passion in a contagious manner. It is a generous record, one I welcome with open arms.