Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Parties - Can't Come Down - 2008


There's a graceful psychedelic drift in the Parties' brand of jangle pop that sets them apart from the dozens of other bands that worship at the altar of Roger McGuinn, and on their first full-length album Can't Come Down, the band recalls the adventurous melodic sense of latter-day pop acts (most notably the Windbreakers) while still conjuring a pleasing retro vibe. There's an engaging push-and-pull between Jeremy Powers' ringing 12-string leads and the fuzzier bedrock of Sarah Mehlfeld's guitar figures, and the songs mine the rich melodic frameworks of classic folk-rock along with the minor-key twists of later acid-era stuff. (The rhythm section of Rex Padayhag on bass and John Morgan on drums doesn't call as much attention to itself, but they coax the music along with a gentle but insistent force.) While most of the songs glide along in a graceful midtempo, there are a few tougher sounding numbers such as "Radio," "Breaking Hearts," and "Damned by the Sunshine" that show the Parties can step on the gas when they feel like it, and the pedal steel on "Much Better" suggests these folks have been listening to their Gram Parsons records. But Can't Come Down is at its best when the Parties follow their psychedelic muse, like the Left Banke without the Baroque trappings or the Rain Parade stripped of their studied cool, and it makes for a quietly impressive debut from a band that can look to the past without sounding as if they're selling paisley nostalgia. -AMG



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