One look at the album cover’s skeletal King of Spades, ghostly butterfly and slate-grey backdrop gives the listener a fairly close idea of what to expect from the music. The color palette of the rainbow is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a gloomy, limited spectrum that is more often than not enshrouded in fog. “Beyond the Beach” is a musical approximation of Poe with stentorian piano chords, swirling electronic fragments and an ethereal violin topped off with Palmer’s unsettlingly close sing-whisper of the opening line: “I cannot recommend the cherries hanging low from this old tree/ They glow on moonless nights and taste a bit like paraffin/ It’s been a decade since it happened and we’re told we can return/ But maybe best to boil the water, ignore the after-burn.” Ka-Spel’s vocals seep into the mix, his voice the dry croak of someone recently raised from the crypt.
Palmer and Ka-Spel sing so close to the microphone that it gives the illusion they’re performing right inside your skull, giving voice to the darker urges and impulses we try more often than not to keep quiet. Having made a name for herself using just this approach, Palmer’s soft, vaguely threatening vocals provide the perfect foil for Ka-Spel’s equally unsettling vocal approach.