ARTIST: Parrot Dream
RELEASE: Light Goes
RELEASE DATE: August 24th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Good Eye Records
‘Light Goes’ is the debut LP from Brooklyn-based dream-pop/psych-pop outfit Parrot Dream. It’s a neat combination of old school alternative bands (such as the Cocteau Twins) and newer, sleeker sounding dream-pop bands like Beach House and Memory House. Everything is sort of here: the breathy female vocals, the wizzingly bright synths, the reverb guitar, the drum machine-esque beats and, finally, that weird place between nostalgia and retrospective abandonment that only dream-pop can capture. With this in mind however, Parrot Dream don’t really ride the genre in a new and wholly original direction. They use what’s already lying around to create their collective sound; albeit with a nifty talent for song writing and production. The band on this release is made up of Christina Hansen Appel (Kiki) – vocals/keys, Gonzalo Guerrero – guitar, Matt Sklar – bass & Agustin Faundez Rojas – drums/ percussion. ‘Light Goes’ had it’s official release back on the 24th August 2018 via Good Eye Records and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from parrotdream.bandcamp.com
The opener and titular track starts things off brilliantly; guitar and keyboards weave over a simplistic drum beat that rolls tiredly along. The vocals add to this already catchy and soft texture. Here the band are accurately playing upon the ‘pop’ side of dream-pop; the song provides an enjoyably laidback introduction into the album. ‘Follow Me’ takes a more ballad-like approach, the vocals are breathy and whispered and the tempo has been laid back even more. However, this song lacks the catchiness of opener ‘Light Goes’ and seems to pale in comparison somewhat. Unfortunately, this type of slow-burn songwriting continues on ‘1740’, which doesn’t really go anywhere beyond the point of a collection of instruments playing an unconnected tune. Thankfully, the following track pulls the show back together; ‘Paradise and Prey’ features a calming backing synth and the occasional guitar plucking to forge a calming image in the listeners mind. The sound captures a band in unison, with the vocals sounding more connected to the rest of the instrumentation as a whole. ‘Julio’ is an album highlight: the intricate drum beats, weaving throughout a slow synth line and the usual guitar plucking create a different approach to the type of textures previously explored throughout the album. The vocals shine (perhaps the most interesting vocal performance on the album) in a manner similar to the aforementioned melding of Memory House.
‘By Your Side’ continues this, its opening showcasing the power of a dream pop-based soundscape. Following this, the contemplative side of dream-pop happily follows as the band perform with a deeper and more concentrated sound. ‘Fall Forward’ is a neat, post-punk hued tune which envelops into a more beautiful, whimsical place as the song rolls on. The instrumentation here, mixed with the high vocals, makes for a beautifully rich and engaging sound. ‘Cloudchaser’ seems to be the pinnacle of the previous group of songs: it collects the best elements of Parrot Dream into one song, projecting something both enjoyable and well written. Here the performances finally connect perfectly with the production and mixing, creating a credible album highlight. The darker and challenging ‘Ode to Octavia’ is just as interesting, collecting up all the previously mentioned elements of dream-pop and twisting them to sound more like a question than a thought. ‘Helium’ proves to be one of the best songs on the album, lasting longer than other tracks and combining thoughts and sketches into long winded instrumental passages. The second half especially sounds like somewhat of a homage to shoegaze; guitars climb, drums smash and vocals soar.
‘Light Goes’, as previously mentioned, is not exactly a wholly new, original take on the dream-pop genre. Its cards are placed with a historical retrospective and a familiarity that the band actually plays to its strength throughout. And often Parrot Dream and their use of dream-pop practices is actually quite refreshing because it relies on nothing more than quality song writing and performance rather than explorative elements. At times, of course, this is a hinderance. Most predominantly on the first half of the album, songs seem like album fillers or slight re-hashes of other music you’ve heard before. Thankfully the second half of ‘Light Goes’ seems to recover and realise the correct direction that songs and tracks should be taken in. Interestingly enough, I often find myself weighing up the amount of songs on albums by particular bands, seen here in a sort of contemplative footnote in the second half of the review. Without going too deeply into critical points, I believe that ‘Light Goes’ may have too many songs on it. Much like many of the releases I’ve heard lately through this blog, the extent of track listings are stretched to ten or more tracks, with no hugely variant elements found from track to track, making the album seem like more of a forced odyssey than an interesting adventure. Parrot Dream are almost an exception though, as the second half seems to pick up the pace and set things a little more ‘on course’. Compliments to the performances and production, the album cover (a fantastic picture that truly captures the songs on the album) and the overall sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian-based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.