Thursday, June 24, 2010

album of the day: Entanglements

If you're a fan of chamber pop, and you don't know Parenthetical Girls, you should go out and get this album immediately. This is billed as a song cycle, and has typical pop song themes of love, loss, passion, mortality, messiah complexes, and so on.

It also has your typical contemporary pop instrumentation: guitar, piano, strings, clarinet, flute, oboe, synthesizer,... Wait, oboe?

I'm lying. Nothing about this album is typical of pop music, except that they cover a song, and that they borrow liberally from other pop songs - especially lyrical quotations and little bits of riffs. And the song they cover? "Windmills of Your Mind," from the 1968 original version of The Thomas Crowne Affair. These guys - the Parenthetical Girls, I mean; Zac Pennington and Jeremy Cooper, who started out calling themselves Swastika Girls - these guys are friggin' nuts.

There is a driving anarchic joy to this whole record. At any turn, it feels as if absolutely anything could happen. You simply have to listen to it. It's like Burt Bacharach on acid.

I found them entirely by sheer coincidental predestination. I was looking for weird band names in the racks of Indie Alternate cds at a store in Berkeley. I couldn't imagine what "Parenthetical Girls" would mean. And to think, they could've been Swastika Girls.

I quickly illegally downloaded borrowed a song of theirs from teh Interwebs. That's the one. It courses through me like some kind of vital essence, or terribly thrilling toxin. It begins with a tight rhythmic horn section playing trippy non-progressions (see, cuz they don't go anywhere). Then the vocal comes in, a high tenor, pleading:

pressed unto us flesh still sickly sweet
with scents of love
but lost of this lust
exactly what becomes of us?

I'm about to say something quite risqué, so go somewhere else if you need to.


Songs often have visceral effect. I feel a song somewhere in my body, sometimes very locally even. This is one of those songs. It strikes the prostate. I am not making that up.

Burt Bacharach on acid. Prostate stimulation. Oboes. What more do I need to say?

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