Parenthetical Girls - Privilege EP Part 2
Dominic Valvona 13/09/2010
Purveyors of theatrical awkward indie, Parenthetical Girls go to extraordinary lengths with this, their newly created high-minded concept album Privilege. Rather then conventionally release an LP in one go, they've split their grand opusicule into a sequence of separate but linear volumes, which will be released over the next 15 months in a staggered fashion - part one of five was brought out back in February. Each hard copy version is bound in a limited edition 12-inch format, bedecked with a part caricature/part kooky illustrated depiction of each band member. These are all hand numbered in that poor individual's own blood! Talk about giving it your all.
Released on their own label and limited to only 500 vinyl copies, the band have also decided on exclusively selling each volume through their official website. Cleverly thought out and marketed, they aim to stand out from the deluge, creating a new business model in the process whilst playing around with the whole album concept.
The four tracks that make up this EP are full to the brim with grandeur and empirical emotive driven displays of melodic wantonness. Reference points and the scope of influences are wide-ranging, from Sparks to Placebo, with the style of melodrama boundlessly switching from near morass classical to glam pop at a stroke.
Opening proceedings is the Final Fantasy sounding forlorn and quivered august 'The Common Touch', a quite brooding beatific, if slightly dark, number. Oboe, piano and xylophone effortlessly blend to create an entrancing sumptuous orchestral sweep for Zac Pennington's Brian Molko-esque vocals and the choral accompaniment of Rachael Jenson. Bursts of with-strained Muse-esque opening-up guitar carnage threaten to break out, but are kept tightly reigned in, adding to the general surprising nature of this bands music.
Next up is the marching timpani 'Weaknesses', which surprisingly crosses a mournful Dusty Springfield with Oh No Ono to create some strange, pained WWII swansong as conducted by Wagner. This diegesis driven confessional about an affair is cooingly sung in an harassed manner, Zac criss-crossing from touching playfulness (“You look great, get the hair from out of your face”), to stark anguish (“You practice your birth control, tell me is this as tawdry as it sounds”). Almost cynically, the last lines revert back to the certain blunt if sad “I reckon this is tough to justify, but I've never done one pure thing in my life, never mind just guide those hallow hips of mine inside your equine thighs”.
'Young Turks' is quite a forsaken, explicit song, which sees our protagonist carousing a fan into some backstage oral contract - if you get my meaning! Zac stutters in an odd extravagant dictation bawdry lyrics such as “Brace yourself and this won't hurt a bit”, and “I crossed myself before I crossed your lips” are accompanied by a backing that glides between ELO, The Killers and the aforementioned Sparks.
Drawing the EP to a close is the triumphant minor suite of 'Present Perfect (An Epithalamium)'. Mew styled shifting synth and folktale twisted string ensembles wrap themselves around an off-kilter drum stomp before moving to an almost afro-beat chug. Zac swoons a cynically waned lament to marriage, taking an esoteric leaf out of the Marcel Duchamp school of conceptual thinking - I'm thinking of 'The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)'
A middle-eight maelstrom of bombastic tumultuous effects make way for a final extended repetitive chorus of “Still we all salivate when the bells ring”, a strangled cacophony of horns blurt out a ceremonial funeral to this sanctimonious ritual.
Another strong purview of ambitious songs, full of eloquent, intellectually engaging, and at time dry wit prose, that bodes well for the remaining concatenate series of instalments.
Release date: 20/09/2010