A Journal Of The Dark Arts
With the whole world falling in love with Slowdive all over again, with their reformation, the timing is apt to be introduced to Perren Street Parade.
Perren Street Parade started life way back in 1986 and 1987, in the south of England. The band recorded some demos with Tony Cohen, who produced the Birthday Party, which got them some interest from Alan McGee’s Creation label, which, sadly, didn’t end up going anywhere. The band split, without recording or playing any shows.
25 years later, founding members Pete West from Devizes and Colin Read from Southampton reconvene to deliver their recorded debut. It was worth the wait.
The band had touted their sound as “dream pop”, which we’re fans of, so we’re rushing in expectantly, and were not disappointed; in fact, pleasantly surprised. Perren Street Parade are the real deal – purveyors of fine jangling atmospheric pop rocks, indeed. It’s funny, even before we were flicking through PSP’s twitter feed, we were already calling R.E.M. and Cocteau Twins. If you had run of glistening, chiming psychedelic guitar washes, prepare to be recharged.
Perren Street Parade’s dream jangle is warm and lush. The singer’s voice has a similar breathy coo to Neil Halstead’s from Slowdive, is pleasant and relaxing on the ear. This music lulls, pulling you into it, while a lot of dreamy music is harsh and grating, making it hard to get into the groove. The band’s pedigree with The Birthday Party does rub forth, from time to time, however, as horns occasionally intersperse the sonic miasma, in a more bar-rock capacity. There was a harmonica outbreak that reminded me of The The, which was a pleasant surprise, as i just don’t hear that particular type of post-punk much, these days. The basslines are inventive, melodic, and memorable, and reminded me of old Elvis Costello records. It’s not something you hear as much, these days, either, and it’s too bad, really. A good, swinging bassline gives a song a funky, lowdown, mellow quality – think of old Beck, for illustration. Something similar could be said for the chiming guitar arpeggios; it’s not that it’s not done, it’s just a touch that’s not always there. PSP’s chiming guitars remind me a lot of old R.E.M., in the best possible way, in that way that blends musicality with punk rock spirit and floral psychedelia. Here at Forestpunk, we live and die for post-punk, for dark psychedelia, so this one definitely gets a gold ribbons.
musicality with punk rock spirit and floral psychedelia
And that’s kind of the thing, with Perren Street Parade. They are original shoegaze dream poppers, and not third wave facsimiles (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s just the way the sonics are arranged. There’s a OG goth sensibility to the keyboard pads, at times, which brings to mind old The Cure or Dead Can Dance records. It could be cheesy, but it’s charming. Similarly, the way the guitars are recorded. There’s this bright, shiny quality to the acoustic guitar strums, that could be grating, but its just part of the aesthetic. It’s like a bright, shiny, plastic sugary day-glo psychedelia. It creates a nice contrast in the shoegaze wash, something to hold on to. And, god forbid, actual tunes.
There are elements on this record that could be construed as cheap. They obviously use MIDI drums, only to find out that they had since parted ways with their original drummer. It just seems like they wanted to get it done. The cover and website could use some work, and that kind of thing can deter some people. But in this case, don’t let it. These guys are really good. Selling The Family Jewelery is a great dreamy, soothing, romantic, jangling shoegazing post-punk. They are easily as good as any of their idols. Their sound sounds totally together, completely congealed. There’s an attractive shimmering miasma around their entire ouevre, that swallows and embraces. A cocoon of echoes. Perren Street Parade even got me to swallow a saxophone solo that was not on a bebop record, by slathering it in echo and delay.
For fans of Slowdive, Ride, R.E.M., The Jesus And Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, The Cure, The The, or that Children Of The Stones record i posted last week, you will like this.
Selling The Family Jewelery makes me glad that i sift through the stacks, and decide for myself what is quality and what isn’t. You find treasures in the most unsuspecting places. It’s kind of frustrating and kind of funny that so much of journalism/criticism is ‘you know it when you hear it’. There’s something about a particular sound, or the way a record is presented to you, to dispose you towards or against something. Which is funny, because journalism, in particular, is known for being unbiased and dispassionate. But we all read press releases.
But you know it when you hear it. I read a quote the other day that said, and i paraphrase, it’s a critic’s job is to be impervious to ennui. We are professionally passionate. That’s why i do what i do. I can’t keep it to myself. And i have to have a reason to sort through the world’s data stacks.
At this point, i am fortunate to have almost nothing but good music coming into my mail box. I hardly ever hear sounds that i hate. I have built this empire of jewels and rust, my citadel of dust, where we can all hang out and dream.
This is a new favorite record. It hangs with the classics. This deserves to go on seasonal mixtapes. I suspect, next time Perren Street Parade will be returning with a much more lavish production. They’ve done a remarkable job with this one. This is the real deal.
Perren Street Parade put something in their press release about defying the dad rock 40-something stereotype. They needn’t worry; quite the opposite, in fact. In a just world, people would be clamoring over themselves over this one. If they had recorded more, this would be touted as a comeback record, and they’d be headlining festivals. Instead, they emerge with this humble fare. But it should be shouted!
Perren Street Parade – Selling the Family Silver