steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Parlour Steps

"Ambiguoso" CD

Nine Mile Records

Genre: pop, indie pop

Vancouver, BC

June 12, 2009

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.

Parlour Steps will be playing on June 18 at The Cameron House (406 Queen St. W) as part of Toronto's 2009 North by Northeast festival.

parlour steps' myspace




Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2008]