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Here Comes Winter

Parker And Lily
Here Comes Winter
(Manifesto Records)

On their debut release Hello Halo, Parker And Lily arrived in a scene straight out of a back-alley dive of a jazz bar. Mixing rather antiquated keyboards, organs, and drum machines with slide guitar and breathy male/female vocals, the group evoked a chain-smoking cool feel, delving into subjects like infidelity (repeatedly), and sort of a general world-weariness. Much of that same sound is back on their follow-up Here Comes Winter, but unlike their earlier album, much of this release is sugar-coated with a much more pop feel.

It's an interesting juxtaposition, and while it doesn't always work, it's definitely something that's unique. Starting out in familiar territory, the album opens with a track by the name of their last album ("Hello Halo"), and the group proceeds to lay down some warm organ tones over a simple drum machine patter while Parker Noon adds his warm baritone vocals and some slide guitar over it all. "My Apartment Complex" arrives right on its heels, and does an almost complete turnaround in terms of sound. Piling layers of old-school keyboards on top of one another, Lily Wolfe sings in her almost childlike girlish voice over the downright playful track.

Although there was a touch of it on their last release, there's also a lot more bossa-nova influence on this newer disc, mainly fueled by the percussive elements of vintage drum machines. "Three-Day Life" trots along with a simple hi-hat treatment and swirls of simple keyboards, while "Planes In Clouds" (one of many tracks which the theme of travel crops up) bounces along for the verses while dropping off to more quiet choruses. Adding a third member to the group on some tracks (Christina Campanella) also allows for some nice two-part female vocal harmonies on several tracks.

While the new pop enthusiasm is a nice touch to a couple tracks, the group is still at their best on the moodier efforts. "Bridge And Tunnel" is one of the best tracks that the group has ever done, shuffling along with a subdued beat while twinkling guitars intertwine with twangy guitars and Noon adds deadpan vocals (recorded into a handheld transcription device) on top of it all. Following that track up is the excellent "Motel Lights," which adds more of that lush, reverbed guitar over meandering organs. Musically speaking, even though there are the new additions mentioned above, the group pretty much stays a similar course in terms of overall sound. Although there are a couple slightly faster tracks, most of them are content to shuffle around at a slow or even slower pace. While it's interesting and commendable that the group has changed up their sound a bit, their melodies are quite a bit more flimsy on the bouncier tracks, making the album drag in places. If you're into the casio (sounding) pop with a slight dark edge, it might be down your alley, but their first disc is more consistent.

Rating: 6.5