You could call brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei of The Bots veterans of the recording process, having recorded their first album five years ago when they were just 15 and 12 years old. Since forming, the young pair has amassed an impressive résumé, having opened for bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blur and Tenacious D, and playing some of the biggest festivals on the planet, including the Warped Tour, Glastonbury, South by Southwest and Coachella. The bold ambitions of the Los Angeles-based garage/punk duo are manifest again in their full-length debut with Fader Label, Pink Palms.
Strong opener Ubiquitous draws heavily on the infectious, provocative riffs of an early punk sound, before being thrown into the hazy, vexing sounds of Blinded. Structurally and sonically reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys, Blinded is both buoyant and seductive, with a beat that makes it impossible to sit still.
The brothers switch easily between aggressive and laid-back in Won, before making some innovative choices in All I Really Want. Pairing reflective spoken-word verses, striking rhythms with listless, off-key vocals, All I Really Want is the perfect adolescent anthem that remains apathetic whilst screaming for attention.
That quintessential pubescent boredom and indifference, is flawlessly manifest in the trancey, relaxed sounds of Wet Blanket, lethargically murmuring “get lost, no one wants to see you”. Things mellow a bit towards the middle of the album with the simple but catchy All of Them (Wide Awake) and Alanna. The nimble, light Bad Friends is an unexpected but welcome change of pace before the album picks back up with unruly Ethiopia and raucous Silhouettes, both of which make great use of simple rhythms and syncopation to make us feel as though time is slowing and accelerating.
Side Effects is an unpredictably beautiful way to close the album; full of nostalgia and sweetness, the final track is a lush juxtaposition against the frenetic sounds of the rest of Pink Palms. If the brothers promised “to change perceptions with their new album,” they have done just that. No longer defined only by their early punk-inspired sound, The Bots prove they can maintain the veracity of garage, and punk-rock whilst simultaneously exploring the blues and ballad traditions, exhibiting a vast musical depth, diversity and maturity.