Monday, September 22, 2008

Reviews:: Parlovr

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I’ve been waiting to hear more from Parlovr ever since they sent over a song for the Quebec version of our Great Canadian Mixtape project. Pen to Paper toed the line between searing anthem and classic indie rock perfectly, and there was something about the vocals that drew me in. Sure the song was catchy as hell, but never once did it seem formulated or fake. They weren’t concerned with making music that spoke for the defining characteristics of a musical city. They simply wanted to make music that spoke for them.

Personally, with the rise of bands like Handsome Furs and Parlovr, I was hoping that the day of the ever expanding, Montreal pop collectives steeped in layers was finally starting to turn to nightfall. And perhaps, even with my growing apathy towards bigger songs, the most substantial element of their sound that made me fall for the band was the constant thought of, "How do three guys playing sloppy chords on shitty equipment make sounds that big?"

Their self-titled debut, stylistically, is all over the map and I mean that as a compliment. Alex, Louis Jackson and Jeremy MacCuish easily jump from snotty garage rock to quirky pop to booming anthems. Sandwalking is full of yelps and energy, but really, the song is nothing more than vocals, keys, drum crashes and simple guitar. There are no melodicas, no glockenspiels, no voice boxes, and no horn sections to freshen up the recipe. Parlovr is happier making noise and just when you start to think they will settle into a nice groove, they crank up the amps and add more distortion. Hiccup! builds nicely and the finger snaps and keys sparkle, but instead of surging forward to an epic conclusion, Parlovr uses the energy to create a clasuterphobic, panic stricken scene.

Tracks like On the Phone show they can easily write pop songs – the xylophone, oohs and ahhs, and guitar work warm the track but as the 3-minute song quickly veers off course putting you on unsettled footing and you get the distinct impression that these three guys are happier when things aren’t perfect - and to be honest, I’m right there with them. On Speech Bubble/Thought Cloud you are hit with regret, but not in your standard “I miss her, I’ll never do better” way. The regret is more that the relationship was riddled with faults, insecurities and doomed by the simple fact neither did anything to make it better.

Parlovr is obviously influenced by their environment – the ten-minute epic All The World Is All That Is The Case and Sever My Ties follow a similar stylistic journey as some of the new tracks by Wolf Parade – but it’s the penultimate track that really grabs my attention. Palace Of Identical Things is littered with sounds you could associate with other big bands from the flagship city of Canadian indie – but it’s almost like they used the sounds in a satirical manner; as a slap in the face of critics that try to pigeon hole the scene that they might not want to be a part of (In Your House mentions the same thing). When they break course and jump into a sloppy amalgamation of noise, you wonder if Parlovr is hoping to get the last laugh. Regardless, with this DIY release, they are certainly going to get a lot of smiles and attention.

Parlovr is going to be here in Halifax for HPX, playing at Hell’s Kitchen on October 23rd. Chances are, they are going to burn that venue down so you might want to show up.

Posted at 9:24 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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