Palmbomen is Dutch for palm trees, which Kai Hugo never actually saw until he toured the US in his early 20s. Palm trees are an easy thing to idealize for someone who grew up in a place without them, vaguely evoking a far-off utopia where it's always summer and leisure is the law of the land. That's the vibe of Palmbomen II, which has the tropical feel of a wish-you-were-here postcard. Hugo's first album, 2013's Night Flight Europa, sent Italo disco through warmed-over filters and was meant to be played live with a full band. His new one, under the name Palmbomen II, is a solo effort recorded at his mom's house in Holland. Holed up in the attic, Hugo developed an odd obsession with The X-Files (all the tracks are named after bit characters from the series) and churned out jam after jam of easygoing analog house. The record that came out of it transforms the warm glow of sunlight into something endearingly stuffy.
Palmbomen II has a lo-fi sound with a soft-at-the-edges quality, like a flashback scene from an old TV sitcom. Recorded directly from hardware to tape, it has a close and sticky humidity created by warped melodies and clouds of tape hiss. Hugo may have worked with an on-the-fly, warts-and-all recording method, but he still sounds confident and rehearsed. "Cindy Savalas" certainly doesn't feel like a happy accident. It's an almost perfect execution of those dazed, sunny-day vibes, with the kind of killer bassline that'd make a Mood Hut party go off. The live style also lends itself well to tangents and flourishes—Hugo will work in a subtle acid line here or melt into a creamy breakdown there. Hugo has the unassuming feel of a dude just having fun in his studio, but he writes with the skill of someone who knows his way around a good dance track.