This mini-album sounds like a band taking stock, returning to their strengths, and pushing at some new angles.
A few things have changed for the Donkeys on their new mini-LP, Midnight Palms. Most notably, guitarist Jesse Gulati left the band, so the Hold Steady's Steve Selvidge plays on this record with the band's founding trio. The line-up change, perhaps, had mixed up the band's sound here in a good way. The five-song set turns back to the shadows of Cosmic America that informed the band's first two records, while also dipping its toe into the slacker-rock that the band took on in more recent work. There's something hazy yet propulsive about these songs. "Hurt Somebody" is as energetic as the band has sounded on record in years, and Selvidge's solo feels right at home. Still, the mini-album probably works best when it drifts into its dreamiest spaces. "Day by Day" is subtly layered and bittersweet yet catchy, while closer "Star Bird" ripples out endlessly at its edges, Selvidge's guitar and vocal harmonies gliding on a bed of acoustic strumming. The set sounds like a band taking stock, returning to their strengths, and pushing at some new angles. The best stuff makes you wish there was more here, but there's promise for what's next in Midnight Palms.