It’s rare that one comes across an album that sounds entirely unique, especially in the realm of atypical pop records, but Parenthetical Girls seem to have accomplished such a feat. There newest release, Privilege, sounds both familiar and yet entirely different from anything I’ve listened to in some time. It’s brimming with experimentation, but honed in carefully creating a cohesive gem of a listen.
When “Evelyn McHale” first surfaced in an abridged version, it hit a lot harder than it’s counterpart, which appears on Privilege. That being said, I think I’m quite partial to the extended version; the vocals have this swelling croon to them, and the strummed power of the guitar leaves you in a sense of audial bliss. It’s immediately followed by “The Common Touch,” which begins with a vocal that resembles a less operatic Patrick Wolf. What stands out to me is the musical accompaniment: there’s tinkering piano, accordion, strings and more! The entrance of a female vocal near the midway point is an added touch of beauty.
One of the highlights from Parenthetical Girls has also been circling around for sometime, but you can’t escape the magnificence that is “The Pornographer.” I’d gladly take the rising tones of the chorus ten times over, accompanied by a haunting male chorus in the background. You’ll find the song treads its way patiently throughout, only erupting when necessary. Dammit! This song is so good. Yet, despite such a stand out number, the bread and butter is the band’s ability to move in and out of various song structures.
You can skip around the entirety of this album, and you’ll be on trip that won’t let you down, no matter where you land. For instance, start with the jittery “Note to Self,” that revolves around a catchy string strumming and pounding bit of percussion. Then jump to the dark edges of bedroom electronic with “Careful Who You Dance With.” It’s a solemn number built around synthesized beats, using the occasional sonic explosion. Finally, end your path at the bittersweet “Weakness.” For me, the strings pulled at every emotion I could contain, creating a swelling that bubbled its way into a more playful direction as the song unfolded. You’re not going to find three more different songs scattered about that tie together in such majesty.
Crafting quirky pop numbers might be what Parenthetical Girls have been doing all along, yet the central theme you’ll find is that none of that matters anymore. Privilege leaves you with such an uplifted heart that you’ll find it difficult to put the album down; I’ve tried only to come back and press play all over again. While some bands revel in pop delivery, others toil in obscure pop craftsmanship, but here you find it all blended together perfectly in one splendid listen.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/thepornographer.mp3]
Download: Parenthetical Girls – The Pornographer [MP3]