think I should apply for a study on seasonal affective disorder. As the dense Midwestern winter fogs the sky this December, I’ve already begun to fade. I’ll slowly come around sometime next April, when the road-blackened snows have melted and the sky sheds its thick shroud. In the interim, I have only the available means of coping, and perhaps the new British duo, Parsley Sound, have provided me the ideal balm. Their debut album, Parsley Sounds, glows with vibrant, meditative folk and is guaranteed to suck the breath from your winter. Turn down the central air and douse the fire. With its bucolic acoustic strumming and spatterings of lo-fi electronics, Parsley Sounds crackles with its own spastic heat.
“Ease Yourself and Glide” opens the album, and the title is razor-fine. It wobbles on faded audiotape and a repeating acoustic guitar line until the rusted-out drums spring forth and carry its soaring melody, the first of many lobotomizing choruses that make the album so irresistible. The enchanted folk continues with “Twilight Mushrooms,” which begins with picked acoustic guitar and a homemade static hum, with lyrics that reassure the listener of their benevolent intent: “I’m not a wolfman by your door.” Astride the song’s gleaming bass and strings, one questions the need for this statement. Ain’t you listenin’, honey? “Ocean House” twinkles like a twisted Beta Band/Kinks amalgam as the astral guitars and faint electronic noise hang on the album’s most gorgeous chorus. They borrow Ray Davies’s playful timidity here, in addition to his soft Muswell Hill vocal touches, and it works wondrously.
The floating bliss of the album’s first half splinter-cracks on “”Platonic Rate.” The first signs of eclipse arise, as its dark guitars and baleful strings simmer into a squall of bass. It’s all the boys can do to raise their vocals to the accompaniment. Something wicked this way comes indeed. “Candlemice” shuffles forward with quiet drums, twilight strings and rustic acoustic guitar, the sudden surge of the previous track is replaced by humility, a Nick Drake ballad that manages to be bare and dry like bone despite its lush production. Serving as a fractured reminder of the album’s former summer tone, its bed of strings are ripe with autumnal images of paper-crisp fallen leaves and flame-blue skies. “Templechurchmansions” quickly shatters this stillness, boiling with a darkhorse bassline and hip-hop snare beat atop the sounds of fried machinery. A trumpet sneaks loose from this dark alley throb, but its rhythmic blurts only enhance the sense of nocturnal isolation.
When the album closes, this sense of seclusion quickly fades. You have no choice but to return again to the start. Each track is a testament to the perplexing simplicity of the album as a whole. Tape-hisses and vivid strings lean against each other and fall away as their support gives out, but the snap-tight melody remains. The album’s greatest charm lies in this ability to maintain a blunt, almost crude, sense of melody and snug warmth while teeming with bustling electronics and lo-fi clockwork noises, sounds ordinarily associated with the chilly mechanics of postmodern music (unless in the proper hands; here’s looking at you, Bjork). The album’s halves turn with a seasonal sense of transition, and the shift prevents the album from blinding you with its initial glare. The songs sway with similar buoyancy, but they work through separate points of resistance. They never submit to the dread of finality, the sheer depressive groan of an end. Just let them linger and you can turn off that fucking radiator for the rest of the winter.