Music Reviews

Parlovr Kooksoul

(Dine Alone) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Trying to epitomise their sound into a sonic metaphor may prove a little disrespectful at this point, having been described as ‘sloppy pop’, ‘retro surf’, ‘nerd rock’ and ‘blissfully bizarre’, all being about as informative as it is least possible to be. A more tangible idea to consider about Parlovr is that they are pop extremists in the sense that, all of their music fuses countless ideologies from pop’s many reincarnations. Their definable characteristic, which possibly explains the spurious genre placings, is that there is no atmosphere they will not dare to penetrate in order to explore the outcome. This record can float seamlessly from 60’s pop harmonies into aggressive grunge riffs as though it were the same thing, and often combine the two at the same time. It sounds an appalling combination to hypothesise but it by no means fails to corral these musical extremities into pop music of unique and individual quality – what that genre of pop music is exactly, who cares.

To call the music schizophrenic wouldn’t even recognise half of the elements at play. The lead track, Do You Remember, constructs layers from a delicate but punchy piano intro into growling bass and an anthemic cymbal explosion. All fine, but, when the vocals align themselves into falsetto Beach Boys harmonies you begin to understand that this isn’t going to become an ordinary pop record. It’s strange to hear these elements coerced within a single track and that’s what makes them all-the-more interesting. Couple that with later efforts General Hell(True Love Fades) and Now That You’re Gone to discover diverse arrangements but in many ways the same soul; the subject matter consistently echoes within the same paradigm of maturity and its relationship with our naïve former selves. General Hell has a Hives-esque brutality about its pop incarnation and the latter strikes clear reminiscences with The Smiths’ feathery melodies dancing upon the twinkling guitars, furthermore accentuating this familiarity with a pineful lyrical refrain.

They certainly show that they understand the DNA of pop music with the rockabilly Amaze-Me-Jane and hopeful ballad Fisticuffs & Affidavits, which are also a certain step away from their denser emotional efforts. This is pop music that isn’t afraid to plunge into more aggressive evolutions, however, such as the Garage rock of Holding On To Something which orates an optimistic heartbreak through a tearful growl; Married On A Sunday that runs the pop course but delves deeper into the potentials of sound and vocal variety; and Bad Faith would in other hands would become a tepid, melancholic ballad, but in this case is nurtured into a fun-fare of melody lines and detectable lyrical phrases.

Some people may find it frustrating, the lack of consistency which rolls through the record and rarely can you subscribe to a particular sound or track which defines the Parlovr epithet, but that’s not to say it’s disjointed or confused. For the amount of diversity in the sound and the arrangements, there are consistencies which can be indefinitely relied upon, certain aspects which do melt together to bind the LP. The melodies are always prominent, engaging, refreshing and partially enhanced by the harmonic interpositions which venerate their sound into one which is almost always pleasingly listenable. Consequently, there is an aspect which I feel this record lacks which is, although the vocals provide such a litany of melodic infusion, there are times when the message can become clouded through the sheer volume of relentless vocal layers. I would like to actually deduce what they are trying to say because until I can do that as a listener, there is only so far that I can dissolve into the sound. At some point, there has to be a connection beyond optimistic music and affecting melodies which exposes the lyrics rather than shielding them. I hope that they continue their path of creating experimental music that scratches against the perimeters of pop but that they focus their expansive harmonic melodies to give them intensified purpose rather than diluting their affect throughout. Oh, and, that the next record doesn’t take four years to arrive.