Parcel’s got a lot of attention when their disco sound was smooth enough to attract the likes of Daft Punk. As their debut finally lands however, it feels like Parcels has let the Robots’ influence take over enough to leave them in the background. Though Parcels bring a lot tight performances here, their dynamics aren’t wide enough to make up for how familiar this album is.
All the glossy disco tones are at the forefront as things set out on “Comedown” but it doesn’t offset the rather indifferent energy from the vocals. This said, the instrumental breaks and little sonic touches that come in handfuls here and elsewhere on the record are the real treats to be had. Though “Lightenup” suffers from this same energy issue, there’s such a swing to the rhythm they inject into the track that it rarely matters. Additionally, all the percussion Parcels has assembled on this record are consistently great and flesh out their already stellar grooves excitingly. As a warm but clanging hook sets up “Withorwithout” there’s a sense of discord that they explore on a deeper level in their storytelling. It’s in this more melancholic-drive that Parcels are able to make their singing feel a lot cooler and fitting.
It’s a lot harder to totally get where Parcels is going on “Tape” as it feels halfway between Daft Punk’s “Instant Crush” and hearing an indie riff on loop. Though Parcels keep their rhythms tight, there’s virtually no edge or true dynamics to sell the great melodies they add in other sections. It’s hard to deny the funky energy to “Everyroad” especially as Parcels take a much more experimental angle to their mix of growing grooves and interview clips. Given how long it takes the track to switch gears or fade out however, it’s one that definitely feels difficult for engaged listens rather than on a dance floor. Their knack for distinct feelings is most present on “Yourfault” where so much of the song is driven by the tones in the background, it rarely feels like much else is going on.
Though the band have clearly moved beyond their Daft Punk collaboration, it’s hard not to feel like they’re doing themselves a disservice to hold so close to their sonic palette. In this way Parcels bring out an originally electronic, disco and rock hit on “Closetowhy” but always feel right at the edge of a comparison. “IknowhowIfeel” digs in deep with its bass, and lets loose an infectious groove and dark energy. As pointed out before however, with such an iconic dive into this 70s sound so recently, all the great drums and brilliant harmonies they bring out in the choruses is overshadowed by how familiar it feels. That’s why it’s great to see them using this sound in new and occasionally lighly Fleetwood Mac-like ways on “Exotica” where they create a completely new sound out of handfuls of others.
“Tied Up Right Now” itself lets melody play front and centre, especially vocally, in a way that stands much more sharply than their mentors. In this way they begin transcending their roots to make a totally new energy and start making classics of their own in an album standout. There’s a vintage sheen that elevates “Bemyself” to the same feeling of a Sandie Shaw track, as it exudes its own character within inherently familiar tones. “Credits (ft. Dean Dawson)” serves equally as a testament to the band’s tight finesse on rhythms and unfortunately how samey their writing can be. Though it ends up being Dawson’s over-the-top personality that leaves the track a little more divisive.
Words by Owen Maxwell