EP Review: ‘Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream’ Sees Palace at Their Most Vulnerable

Palace © Adrian Lee
Palace © Adrian Lee
Palace’s most recent release, ‘Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream,’ is beautiful and haunting – a perfect way to close out the year.
‘Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream’ – Palace

Palace, a London-based three-piece alternative rock band, has just released their second EP of 2023. Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream is the companion release to Part I: When Everything Was Lost, which was released on July 18 of this year. This two part collection is incredibly powerful, meditating on moments in time that the band members have experienced in what we can all agree was a trying year. Part II brings a feeling of resolution and reflection, a fitting release as we reach the end of 2023 and move into the new year.

Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream - Palace
Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream – Palace

Part II, containing three songs, clocking in at 11 minutes and 30 seconds of brooding soft rock. The first track, “Rabid Dog” was released as a single on October 3rd. The second, “Make You Proud” was released on November 7th alongside it’s month-old companion, creating a tiny EP that, on December 5th, was joined by the final track: Nightmares and Ice Cream. This EP-ception way of releasing this collection emphasizes the themes of growth, reflection, and resolution that thread through each of the three songs.

“Rabid Dog” explores the feelings of loss and directionlessness that come after an unwelcome break-up. A slow chord progression overlaid with a mourning guitar solo brings the listener into the song immediately – the melody pulls you deep into the experience of the track and the gloomy place where these feelings dwell. It catalogs a transition in life where the future is unknown. Dark and haunting, the lyrics are nothing short of poetry.

Tempers astray
Just like a dog, rabid for days
Lost in the fog
She ripped me in twain
As I sold you a story
Nothing but pain, to kiss me this morning

The lyrics depict someone who is still deeply entrenched in a stage of life that has passed and their struggle to move on. Loneliness and isolation assume the role of a rabid dog in this track, roaming aimlessly and plagued with an incurable disease. The slow pace of the song creates an almost meditative experience; self-reflection and self-pity run rampant through every word. The transition to falsetto in the chorus buoys the overall feeling of the song, preventing it from being depressing to the point of unenjoyment. In fact, the outro provides a glimmer of hope:

This child in my heart
It’s been riddled with blame
Let’s go back to the start
To reason with shamе

Here, at the conclusion of the song, a chance for redemption and perhaps the beginnings of a bright future shine through. The time has come to turn inward and to heal; to take accountability and begin to move forward. The beauty that can come from pain is expressed elegantly in this track.

The second track, “Make You Proud,” continues along this journey of healing and coming to terms with loss. There is a character arch here, a sense of growth and positive change that deviates from “Rabid Dog”. Emphasized by the time between the release of these two tracks, this healing process takes time and effort – it is not going to happen all at once. This track shares the beautiful lyricism of the first:

There’s an ocеan’s breadth, across our heartbeat
Your head on my chest,
is sweeter than I’ve ever known

The nights still young, just stay forever
There’s rust on my tongue
But I’m moving onto better things

These lyrics pay homage to the positive impact  a person can have on your life even if you were not ultimately meant to be together. Ruminating on the time together, it is easy to get caught up in what you could have said or done to fix what has been broken, as expressed in the line “There’s rust on my tongue”. There is great pain within these lyrics; knowing the joy that was once shared will never be again but simultaneously realizing that it is the best choice for both parties involved. The relationship is honored and memorialized. Anger and resentment gives way to the opportunity for growth and renewal, not erasure of the past. The repetition of the line “Never thought I’d breathe again” in the pre-chorus shows the realization that there is, in fact, life after love (Thanks, Cher). The final couplet, perhaps the most beautiful on the track, lifts the listener from the depths of despair felt in “Rabid Dog”: “The sun will shine today/ Never felt this way.”Acceptance, optimism, an end and a beginning.

The third and final track, “Nightmares and Ice Cream,” is the most abstract on the EP, perhaps highlighting that healing is in no way a linear process. The music has a dream-like, psychedelic quality that departs from the previous two tracks on the EP. The lyrics depict feeling deeply connected to someone – so much so that you become a singular entity – and the positive and negative consequences that oneness can produce. The song is raw and vulnerable, a complete baring of the soul.

You’re so amazing, and I’ve seen it all
Lightspeed that we’re changing
My head’s so soft, I’m the cracks in the pavement
And it’s so raw when I melt with you

The depth and intricacy of these lyrics is staggering. Opening up to a partner is an incredible feat – unveiling your deepest self through music to an audience is next level. This vulnerability is palpable when listening to the song, creating an incredibly moving track. The beauty in learning someone’s soul  (“Potions and blueprints of your mind”) is not lost when that relationship ends – it changes who you are and stays with you forever. “Nightmares and Ice Cream” encapsulates the rollercoaster of emotions that relationships bring, regardless of how or if they end.

The release of this EP is an incredible way for Palace to close out 2023, facing and hopefully overcoming unresolved pain as we enter the new year. It is the perfect soundtrack to a time of transition. Palace shares the message of embracing ambiguity and allowing oneself to feel by being vulnerable and open with their listeners.  As the age-old adage goes, the only way past is through. This deeply beautiful EP is a gift to all who listen.

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:: stream/purchase Nightmares & Ice Cream here ::
:: connect with Palace here ::

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Part II: Nightmares and Ice Cream - Palace

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