Baton Rouge duo Palomino Darling’s new album may be titled “Anything But Human,” but the project pivots around two topics all too familiar to most people: love and heartache.
Katie Swetman (vocals, guitar and keyboard) and Sam Anselmo (guitar, bass, keyboard and drums) released the 10-track LP last week, and the album sounds even more impressive after realizing it was created by only two musicians.
The album's opening track, “Finish It,” wastes no time in setting a beautifully somber tone for the record. Over a steady beat and a bed of broken chords, Swetman welcomes the inescapable pain love brings. “It’s too easy to break my heart,” Swetman sings. “Just being you breaks my heart, you already did, so finish it.”
Mysterious, reflective lullabies like “Falcon Lake” and “Goodness Is Out There” make Palomino Darling’s material almost meditative, a quality reminiscent of Baltimore band Beach House.
The title track opens with a captivating guitar riff as Swetman spins tales of “wonder and discovery.” The vocalist explores the highs and lows of her range with ease, giving Florence + The Machine a run for its money.
Instrumentally, “Old and Lost River” is one of the most interesting cuts on the album. Anselmo’s dark synth tones provide the framework for melodies soaked in reverb. Here, guitar lines fade into the ether like echoes in a deep cavern.
“Without You” concludes the record peacefully with introspective and angelic vocals. The album closer comes off less foreboding than most of the songs on “Anything But Human” — by the end of the record, Palomino Darling seems to accept that love is pain and vice versa.
“Anything But Human” is emotional from beginning to end and the Baton Rouge duo’s thoughtful writing and arrangement make this album surprisingly vulnerable. What’s more human than that?
Palomino Darling will play a show with Summer Fits on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway. Doors at 7 p.m. $10 cover. facebook.com/palominodarling; facebook.com/midcityballroom.