Review Summary: Power pop with electro-creative tendencies.
When we last heard from Brooklyn outfit Parts & Labor they were perpetrating their wacky form of catchy electro-noise-rock, enjoying relative popularity for 2007’s Mapmaker
. Since then they have undergone a group makeover involving the loss of their drummer and the addition of a fourth member, guitarist Sarah Lipstate. Completing the fresh quartet are mainstays B.J. Warshaw and Dan Friel. They have released several EP's, and Receivers
is the group’s third full-length record.
marks several new developments in their sound. Compared with Mapmaker
’s raging pace it is much steadier. Their electronic elements are also more tastefully placed, creating a more generic indie feel. This may sound like a misfortune but it makes for generally better songs. On Mapmaker
the guitar commonly gave way to synthesizers or buzzing static, whereas here with the addition of Lipstate there is an added proverbial aural footing; the tracks feel more like songs and are much simpler to follow. It adds replay factor and better overall flow. Warshaw’s voice is also perfectly suited for "indie-rock".
is a concept album dealing with future economical and technological developments. It offers political commentary and themes; “Mount Misery” for example is a direct reference to Donald Rumsefeuld’s home. Many of the choruses on the record are political anthems but don’t worry. This isn’t Anti-Flag or United Nations style rhetoric, rather Warsaw offers mature political dialogue, compared with preaching some ridiculous agenda. On “The Ceasing Now” he sings we size up our downfalls / while we undress the pessimist’s pose / our tattered yeses and nos / it only matters that we chose
Musically the loss of their previous maniacal drummer has resulted in more subtle drumming. On Mapmaker
percussion was the gas, the machine with grinding gears and frenzied energy. Here Joe Wong it the heartbeat that keeps the soulful tracks alive. “Nowhere’s Nigh” is the perfect example of a fresh Parts & Labor track. It begins with a simple pop melody that develops into a standard verse-chorus feel. It ends with a key change that is one of the most epic moments on Receievers
contrasting with the many anthemic choruses that have the same effect. “Little Ones” provides an example of Friel’s odd bagpipe-esque keyboarding. The drums propel the song in an off-kilter way, while Friel provides constant harmonic drones in the background before ending the track with a noisy solo. “Wedding In A Wasteland” and “Mount Misery” work almost as ballads. “The Ceasing Now” begins similarly but ends with one of the aforementioned anthemic choruses that make the album really come alive. Sonically, all of Receivers
is soaked in a bit of 1960s psychedelic fuzz, but at the same time it is extremely precise. That precision gives it a 21st century freshness that complete with quirks makes for one hell of a record.
is special for yet another reason. Last spring the group asked fans to submit samples for the record, all of which can be heard at some point during the octet of tracks on the album. This is more evidence of their continued idiosyncrasies, so anyone worried about them not being as unique as before take heart; their development can be summarized in a word: maturity. That’s something I support in any group.