'Black Friday' from Palehound Reflects on Love from the Inside Out
Palehound, the Allston, MA-based band fronted by powerhouse Ellen Kempner, are back and better than ever with their new album Black Friday. It’s chock full of honest and relatable lyrics whispered over reverb-y and sometimes acoustic rock songs that will make you take a long hard look at the relationships in your life.
I first fell in love with Palehound in the summer of 2015 when they played my friends’ porch in Syracuse, while I was halfway across the country experiencing the worst FOMO of my life. I fell in love again in 2016 when I saw their NPR’s tiny desk video, during one of the loneliest periods of my life. I would again fall right back in love, upon hearing Black Friday.
Palehound is a band that does a lot more with a lot less than most bands; whether that’s lyrically, instrumentally, or even in the length of their songs. They’re understated in a graceful way that has so, so much power, but they don’t have to shout it from the rooftops to show it.
“Aaron” is a tender and beautiful song Kempner wrote for her partner in the midst of his transitioning process. It’s probably one of the most important songs ever written, in the sense that it can teach you so much about how to love someone. At its core, it’s about caring about someone so profoundly, and loving them enough to give them the space they need to grow.
The song that really got me though is the titular track, “Black Friday.” If I’m being honest, the first time I listened to the song I was on my drive home from work, and I had to pull over to process it all. It conveys that quintessential feeling of knowing that someone doesn’t value you the way you value them, but still letting them in because you’re too weak to give up on the relationship. The sort of feeling that we’ve probably all had but didn’t know how to talk about.
These songs artfully walk a fine line between being deeply personal, and yet extremely relatable— in a way that only Ellen Kempner could achieve. Songs like “Worthy” and “Bullshit” explore the complexities of love and self-loathing, while others like “Sneakers” and “Stick N Poke” touch on missing someone and the way things used to be. Then there are songs like “Killer,” which takes the feeling of wanting to make the bad things haunting the people you love go away, to a whole other level. This collection of tracks features incredibly thoughtful songs. It explores the complexities of navigating relationships with both other people and yourself, trying to understand why we cling to the people who push us away, and why sometimes we can love other people more than we can love ourselves.
I could go on and on about every song and how Palehound is the most honest band and how Black Friday is the best album, but I think maybe it’s best to let you have your own thoughts about it.