I remember The Peter Parkers. I did a short review of their album This Is Sity Music years ago. I liked it a lot. I listened to it a couple of times last year as well as I was digitising my CD collection and I had one reservation: I never managed to get a handle on who the band were, on what to expect when listening to them. I admired all the diversity of sound and rhythm but after all these years I didn’t love it.
So here’s The Peter Parker’s new album five years later. It opens with Make Out Party and it is as I remember the band – possibly brilliant but infuriating in the way it avoids giving you any melodic hooks. The second track Nod If You Can Hear changes everything. It starts just with drums and bass and when the guitar comes in it is distorted but just fits neatly in with the other instruments. This is almost chilled. Even though you could sway along to this, there is distortion and tension in the words and music so it isn’t ever easy listening. Then, at around 2 minutes, in kicks the middle section as the guitar gets strummed hard and this beautiful organ sound (anyone remember The Blue Orchids?) rings out. Glorious.
Nod If You Can Hear Me by The Peter Parkers (Clip)
From this point on my doubts disappear.There’s time to relax and get into a groove on tracks like Sleazy Soft but there’s still the challenge of the sonic attack. Like modern Mogwai they understand that the traditional ‘start quiet and end in crescendo’ is too cliched now. Quiet and loud is mixed up to allow the listener to experience disquiet and resolution in a single track. This is a wonderful album that will intrigue you for years to come if you can just get a hold of a copy (contact the band through MySpace).
To Thomas (3rd Bounce Pounce) by The Peter Parkers (Clip)
I suspect that the need to classify everything is the sign of an obsessive personality and I speak as someone who ordered his record collection for 25 years by the relationship of the band/artist’s music with the Velvet Underground (you know, Stockhausen and experimental to the left, Bowie and other acolytes to the right). But I am happy because I can now pigeon-hole The Peter Parkers into my musical Pantheon. It hadn’t occurred to me to compare them with Sonic Youth because they are not ultra cool and arty. But I now realise that musically there is a real similarity. Sonic Youth in the early 90s, playing live, after the singing finishes they begin to go off into an extended instrumental jam – that is what The Peter Parkers sound like to me. It’s at that point where you begin to hear new harmonies as the distortion of the instruments combine with the echoes of the hall. It’s a psychedelic feeling without chemical inducements.