Review: Palm Dreams by James Reid

Palm Dreams by James ReidFilipino pop artists will always face criticism of not being original, of just imitating sounds heard elsewhere, of riding on a bandwagon. It’s partly why those looking to sound different find themselves limited to relatively small niches, and why their music takes the uninitiated (like me) by surprise. Listening to James Reid’s Palm Dreams would inevitably yield that criticism: it is a tight record liberally applying pop sounds of the past couple of years – slightly tropical, slightly minimal, subtly earworm-y – on a canvas that can sell it to as wide an audience as possible. And James is a suitable canvas: a movie star whose appeal cuts across demographics, from the masses who swoon over his movies, to the snobs who project their tastes on the guy, and raise him as an example of how an “artista” should act. (Then again, his music has always been a bit more adventurous compared to other movie stars.) That said, I can’t help but be cynical. Palm Dreams is an enjoyable record, sure, but it feels shallow, perhaps empty. James sells it, but as the album goes on it feels like he’s just suited up in a particular aesthetic – that parallel universe where “aesthetic” is a verb. The beginning starts promisingly, although your expectations aren’t that high to begin with. You hit the part where Nadine Lustre destroys “IL2LU” and you snap out of the haze. You reach the end of the album and wonder, “so what?” I feel Palm Dreams can be warmer, more method acting and less costume drama. But then, does it matter? People will lap this up – and the “aesthetic” crowd will take it as a victory on their side. (“Next global pop star”, really?) Everybody wins, or so they think. [NB]3/5

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3 thoughts on “Review: Palm Dreams by James Reid

  1. JaDine fangirl but I’m not impressed. Sounds a lot like the Biebs, I’ll give him that pero I stand by what I said: All the songs sound the same to the point na parang isang song lang buong album and walang song na nagclimax ni isa. Spot on review imho tho IL2LU chorus was pretty decent. Kulang sa power si Nadine (and probably flat on most parts) pero keri na.

    1. How exactly? I listened to the album, gave honest feedback. If anything I’m guilty of being a bit too intellectual about this, but a non-glowing review doesn’t make a hater.

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