As the past few years have arguably proven, listening to "new" indie rock has become somewhat of an arduous task. It often feels too repetitive, too campy, or too familiar, eliminating any claims of legitimately being "new" music. At times like these, indie music seems to betray the listener, as if it's been deceiving them the whole time. It's a disappointing trend, clogging your ears with dozens of interchangeable bands, lacking a unique presence, or even a hint of creativity. On Palehound's 2015 debut Dry Food, front-woman, lead guitarist, and singer-songwriter Ellen Kempner proved this status quo incorrect. Not only did Dry Food silence any claims of indie rock being boring, but she took it upon herself to innovate. What came about was a perplexing, abnormally awkward artistic statement, wholeheartedly embracing the slogan of "queer-rock," dipping her toes into just about every genre that was being abused at the time. On Palehound's sophomore album, and their first via Polyvinyl, A Place I'll Always Go, Kempner takes her anxiety to another world, one splashed with millennial pink, indie riff-rock, and welcoming hooks. Within A Place I'll Always Go, the continuous theme of food is still present, as shown by the album cover, which also reflects the title: A place you'll always go, no matter the season, relationship, or emotion you're feeling.

Kempner quickly proves her genius with tongue-in-cheek one liners and sharp wordplay, but this time her approach emotional seems much more calamitous and dread-filled. Although A Place I'll Always Go might not be as focused as Dry Food, it's a bold milestone in Kempner's career, displaying her consistent growth as a songwriter. She takes it upon herself to channel her anti-folk temperament with quirky ambience: 'Hunter's Gun' acts as Kempner's offbeat approach to noisy trip-hop, while the following 'Carnations' ditches the drum pads and keyboards for a matured, narcoticizing hook. The constant criss-crossing between unexpected sounds eliminates the chances of Kempner sounding vulnerable - she leaves it all out before her, allowing no hidden weaknesses.

Dropping the noodling guitar acts that ended up on Dry Food, A Place I'll Always Go instead gravitates towards the zany queer-folk that's best compared to the likes of a Stephen Malkmus solo project. It's no surprise that the band's gravitational pull brings them to these comparisons - Kempner's unconventional, neo-bohemian attitude projects some of the strangest lyricism in modern indie rock. More careless than it is unskilled, the "just rolled out of bed" aesthetic lingers gracefully on 'Silver Toaster', but is quickly contradicted on the following 'Turning 21', which features extremely personal lyrics, backed by a tight-knit, neatly produced band - something abnormal for Palehound to execute.

On 'Flowing Over', the timelessness in which Palehound bask acts as a driving force for their new material, with a power hungry lead guitar that seems to reassure Kempner's songwriting techniques. However, the power trip comes to a fatal end on the following 'Backseat'; Kempner takes you on a soft, muted journey, one dripping with gentle ambiance and conscious exploration.

A constant statement of love and loss, A Place I'll Always Go hits eerily close to home, particularly for a younger generation. Where the battle for equality and humility alike seems to be a tiresome tunnel with no light ahead for some time, A Place I'll Always Go makes you forget about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and proves the fact that Palehound are one of the most relevant indie rock bands to date.