Review Summary: Everything is in its place. Who could ask for more?
I used to hate Algernon Cadwallader. My roommate showed me the album "Some Kind Of Cadwallader" over a year ago and I just couldn't get over the vocalists' almost, and I say almost because it is almost, off-key approach that I felt was detrimental to the music. After hearing them in his car, more than a few times, I started to realize just how intricately the songs are arranged and how ridiculous the musicianship is that compliments their singer's over-the-top, but very human, delivery. The only problem I found with their debut was that it's aggressive nature never really reached its full potential, opting out for clean guitars, never moving against the soothing, melancholy riffing exhibited which made for a subdued, albeit still in your face, effort that could have been all the greater if the noodly substance had reached a head instead of just ***ing off into obscurity for the sake of obscurity... and then there is "Parrot Flies". The Algernon album I didn't even know came out this year until a few weeks ago. Shame on me.
What "Parrot Flies" has that "Some Kind Of Cadwallader" does not is a focus on the band instead of using a plethora of other instruments and insane leads to get the point across. The mild distortion on most of the tracks is exactly what I was longing for on the debut. It really ups the feeling of the songs and allows the vocals even more power due to the driving nature of the guitar's sound and the vocals themselves which sound even more biting, desperate and sincere than before, although I feel that the vocals are actually secondary to Algernon's music. Experimentation may have abounded before, but the nature of this record is it's experimentation with the songs themselves instead of with the idea alone.
As with their EP "Fun", I think that is exactly what makes "Parrot Flies". It's FUN. Well, every release they have had has been fun but I feel like this is a band hitting its stride and when that happens you will notice how much fun the band is having playing the songs in turn. The song "Uniform" breaks away from the basic formula half-way into the song and turns into something bigger than itself with a bass heavy, driving ambience that is accompanied by a melody that pretty much, really, falls apart and ends on its deconstructive behavior . Similar to this is "If It Kills Me", a straight-forward Algernon track until a muted guitar rhythm breaks away from what was established in the beginning and they venture off into soaring power chords followed by a build into a guitar lead that isn't impressive by itself but impressive in the sense that is not overbearing and lends itself to the song instead of being the song. Following is "Glenwood Ave.", a real treat with it's gang yelling and attention to its dynamics, not hitting you all at once, as most of their catalog tends to do, but in doses, building itself into an end that meets its means. These tracks are just some of the highlights that abound here. I would go as far as to say that every song is a jewel in its own right. Blues riffs come up on "Chewed Up And Spit Out (Into A Bowl), "Loose Cannons" takes a cue from The Cure, and opener "Springing Leaks", being the longest track, isn't afraid to screw around but meet itself at every turn, coming back to fruition when it's the right time to do so.
It is hard to come across music that inspires these days. "Parrot Flies" is inspirational in the sense that it does whatever it wants and is influenced by more than just Emo or Indie giving nods to Jazz, Blues and Post-Punk while retaining the sound Algernon Cadwallader is known for. This album is honest, clear about what it wants to get across and unafraid to push its own boundaries when it needs to. They are not over-ambitious with their goal here. Subtlety is the word that best defines this as when they choose to go off the deep-end they aren't doing it just to do it. There is a purpose behind every movement and every movement is a purpose. Here's to making ends meet and making those ends meet up just when they need to and not when you want them to.
Recommended: "Uniform", "If It Kills Me", "Glenwood Ave.", "Chewed Up And Spit Out (Into A Bowl)".