Album Review: Finna – The Palmer Squares

review.finnaWhat the Palmer Squares lack in substance, they more than make up for in execution.

If you’ve grown tired of having Macklemore preach to you or Kendrick tell you who he’s better than, this is the album for you. Finna, like most of the Squares’ work is more an exercise in wordplay than it is a story, sermon or manifesto. The product is surprisingly refreshing

Opening with “Quadrilateral” — only the first reference to the four-sided nature of their name — the Chicago-based duo play with the number four over an upbeat backtrack, but stay laid back enough to maintain the sound that you’ll become accustomed to; a kind of playful indifference in their lyrics and intonation that keeps things from getting too serious.

They play with the topic of each track as it were a freestyle prompt or suggestion from the crowd at an improv show. Instead of starting with some kind of message or intention, a majority of the tracks are more of a demonstration than they are a work of art. While “No Foam In The Cup” lacks the commentary of “Swimming Pools,” it still yields lines like “Squares getting tanked like Tienanmen”. The complexity isn’t in what they’re saying, it’s how they’re saying it.

They follow this rap-prompt pattern through low temperatures (“It’s Cold”), insomnia (“So Long”), mix-tape culture (“Broken Wax”) and song-writing inspiration (“The Darkroom”). “Stay Stupid” is notable for a great chorus by featured Rebel Legato and a backtrack that may as well be off of Illmatic (and it very well may be).

All in all, The Palmer Squares is a satisfying change if you’ve been stuck on other hip-hop artists. They’re Mac Miller with a larger vocabulary and a bit less weed (not to mention that the duo brings more variety in timbre and rhythms than Miller generally has). If you’re looking for a new sound that won’t dive too deep, be sure to check out the Palmer Squares first full-length effort.

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