The keen intelligence, the ambitious ideas, the pride in tackling heady, and cerebral concepts that has characterized the band from Vancouver, British Columbia from the get-go remain intact. But a newfound musical confidence gives a carefree flow to the band’s music, with a vivacious presence and palpable warmth.
Lauded by the Canadian press, Parlour Steps has at various times evoked comparisons to brainy pop of XTC, the drama of Arcade Fire, the lyrical focus of Sufjan Stevens and the snappy rhythmic grip of the Pixies. But it is front man Caleb Stull’s relentless curiosity and daring songwriting that separates the quartet from the indie-rock pack.
What makes The Hidden Names stand out is that the five-piece band contributes with single-minded energy to what Stull calls “the greater good of the song.” That is something the world discovered in 2005, when "Thieves of Memory" won second place in the rock category in International Songwriter’s Competition, an annual event which that year drew some 15,000 entries.
But that was then, and Parlour Steps are not ones to rest on past achievements. In those days, the band got much mileage out of Stull’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek coinage of the phrase “thought rock” to describe the band’s music. Though Caleb is certainly unapologetic about the accuracy or usefulness of the phrase in gaining some attention for Parlour Steps, he is quite content to let fade away what he acknowledges may have been a “rather pretentious sounding conceit.”
Listen to The Hidden Names and you’ll snap your fingers, shake your body, twitch your leg, and soon enough, most tracks will have you dancing – without ever thinking about it. Parlour Step's third full-length, The Hidden Names, will be available at October 20th from Nine Mile Records. Recommended!
Parlour Steps - Little Pieces
Parlour Steps - Bleeding Hearts
Parlour Steps @ MySpace
SONG OF THE DAY: Mates Of State - You Are Free (The Mae Shi Remix)
(from Re-Arranged: Remixes Volume 1 digital release, out on October 2009 on Barsuk Records)
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