NY-based Electro-folk/art-pop duo, The Parlor (comprised of Eric Krans and Jen O-Connor,) are releasing their sophomore full-length Wahzu Wahzu out today on B3nson, following up their buzzy single release “The Surgeon’s Knife” which came out earlier this year, peaking interest for its melding of glittery rhythms and bossanova melodic trappings. While the band’s debut album Our Day in the Sun placed them solidly in the folk category, they were forced to tread into various electronic realms in order to successfully perform the songs live. As a result their sound began to evolve, taking on trance and world music influences, incorporating acoustic and electronic drums, upright bass and a dizzying array of instruments spanning the entire sonic spectrum. The result of their evolution into the brave new world of electronic music, is Wahzu Whazu, a self-described epiphany unto itself. Of the album, the band says that “it was meant to be a dark, but meaningless candy-pop album. It was supposed to be all syrup and fluorescent. Instead, Wahzu Wahzu became a subconscious philosophic exploration into the act of creation: of death, hope, and dancing.”
The album opens with the dreamy, hopeful ambient, “I Saw You In The Truth” – both stylistically implacable and familiar all the same, combining fluttery vocals, soothing xylophone and glitchy synth. Somewhere in the distance an electronic drum beat comes in right before the song disintegrates into a tenor sax solo, so ethereal that I could’ve sworn it were a wind instrument until I was sadly corrected by a colleague. More of an introduction to the album than an actual song, it perfectly encompasses the projects direction and leaves us wanting. What follows in the eleven tracks to come does not disappoint. Standouts include the irresistibly groovy “Star Chart”, that hooks you on O-Connor’s song-bird-esque vocal style that floats atop the song’s pulsating bass line and disco electric guitar riffs (funnily, I was just bemoaning with a friend of mine, the lack of a true disco resurgence when this album fell into my lap as if on cue.) “You Are You Were You Can,” a personal favorite, leaps out off the track listing by virtue of the first few opening measures which depart from the band’s standard sound, opting for plucky acoustic guitar and an acoustic bass line anchored in baroque. Before you know what’s hitting you, however, an inspiring, ecstatic snare rhythm comes in that relaxes and raises the pulse simultaneously. The track soon evolves into a vocal duet between Krans and O-Connor that showcases just how complementary the two are musically. The album’s title track is another departure from their signature style, traipsing delicately into the depths of restless, experimental psychedelia or even no wave – perhaps an indication of the direction they could be heading in as a project. Though catchy, I find “Wahzu Wahzu” a bit distracting from the flow of the album as a whole, as its so markedly different from their core aesthetic. “Vampire Boys” is another favorite, showcasing a masterful sax line that feels as if it were born to accompany O-Connor’s vocals, whispery and urgent yet playful at the same time. Wrapping up the album is an absolutely stunning mid tempo jam, “Wishes In The Sheets” – the perfect kiss off to the listener. Combining a soothing bass line with driving electronic drums and glitchy guitar, while the duo sing over in unison, creating a song you can chill to or dance to depending on the mood.
All in all Wahzu Wahzu manages to achieve what most albums can’t these days, which is an actual opus of work that tells a story – twelve tracks that flow in and out of one another, all distinct yet seamlessly familial and integral. These days full-lengths tend to feel necessarily disaggregated in the era of the single, and the music industry’s compulsive obsession with the track-by-track release. Wahzu Wahzu defies this convention entirely and still manages to deliver a whole slew of “hits.” It has already solidified a spot on our year-end list.
Listen to Wahzu Wahzu in its entirety below: