Vancouver's Parlour Steps have a
knack for writing swift pop songs, as evidenced by their triumph at
the International Songwriting Competition (ISC), in which their
"Thieves of Memory"
was selected from a pool of over 15,000 candidates. That victorious
song is included on Ambiguoso, along with eleven other
similarly infectious ditties.
But enough about awards and acclamations;
what is this critic's verdict? Well, let's begin the assessment with
"Thieves of Memory," which turns out to be an impressive barn house
blues-stomp, reminiscent of Elbow's "Grounds for Divorce." In
this case, the ISC-appointed fanfare appears to be due, as it's simply
a rollicking, triumphant gem of a song. Such is the case with several
of Parlour Steps' efforts on this album; among the most
recommendable of the bunch are the pristine boy/girl duet on "Only
Mystery," the modern indie rock of "Hot Romance," and
the pretty, late-summer
balladeering of "What the Lonely Say."
Of course, several other tracks are
worthy of note, for primarily fortunate but occasionally unfortunate
reasons. Nothing here ranks as abysmal, but there is some indubitable
filler ("The Garden," unflinchingly pleasant "There but for the
Grace..."). However, despite a few missteps, Parlour Steps
emerges as a memorably quirky and infectious pop album – a pleasant
surprise from a scene saturated with
uninteresting self-released singer/songwriter drub.
will be playing on June 18 at The Cameron House (406 Queen St. W) as
part of Toronto's 2009 North by Northeast festival.