If you haven't listened to The Parlour Suite, a band originally out of Minneapolis fronted by husband and wife team Joel & Inga Roberts, you don't know what you're missing. Thankfully, their underlooked EP Welcome to the Garden Party is being released on CD this Friday, providing the perfect opportunity to step into their tastefully appointed parlour and enjoy their refreshing take on the oft trampled vintage pop soundscape.
Like most good acts, it's hard to pin them to any particular genre or place the label of a movement or style on there sound. If you were to go in blind you might find yourself wondering if you were listening to a song by some unfairly forgotten band from the 60s, or if you had stumbled upon the bleeding edge of yet another splinter genre poised to blow up the scene and spawn countless empty imitations. Anyone foolish enough to attempt that will find the task impossible however, because a large part of what gives The Parlour Suite their delightfully soulful mellowness in Welcome to the Garden Party is their readily apparent dedication to a truly authentic approach to a vintage sound. According to their self-description the sound of the album was heavily influenced by the compression produced by their analog recording techniques, and it is a testament to the effectiveness of this approach that it took that revelation for me to realize that is what the second half of their winning combination had been.
The first half, of course, is the genuine talent on display at all levels. Nothing in any track stands out as merely competent, every aspect, from the authentic analog organs and subtle guitar use, displays both an extreme professionalism as well as a decidedly playful nostalgic style that wears it's influences on it's sleeves.
The titular track Welcome to the Garden Party and The Goldenhand appear to be the stand out tracks in popular opinion, and I am inclined to wholeheartedly agree. Garden Party is soulful piece which lyrics contain some heartfelt and interesting poetical imagery that you won't notice on the first listen because of how god damn good it sounds. The Goldenhand is on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum contained in the album, a peppy and upbeat love song sung by Inga Roberts, who performs most of the vocal duties on the album. This song wouldn't sound out of place coming out of a transistor radio or an iPod touch.
When Welcome to the Garden Party isn't radiating off almost visible waves of nostalgia it is astounding you with it's innovation. Is it a freshly discovered vintage track you're listening to or a song so fresh it could pass for vintage? The Parlour Suite extends to you a second invitation to their garden party to find out for yourself. I think you should go, you'll like it there.
Get promo tracks "Welcome To Your Garden Party" and "The Goldenhand" below.