I wrote about Parlors’ “Lemon Ice” earlier this summer (if you haven’t given that tune a spin yet, do it and do it now). Today the band’s back with new track “Stucco.”
The song was sparked by sounds from Westworld, built on themes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, and its overall feel evokes CCR and Arctic Monkeys.
In other words, it’s an eclectic hodgepodge and an intelligent composition, and it absolutely works.
The sound, for one thing, is immediately striking. The band’s labeled this track their “most melodic” to date, and that’s an accurate description. While “Lemon Ice” pulsed with participatory energy, “Stucco” feels more crafted – still engaging, but in a more reflective, artful way. It feels like growth.
I love this kind of stuff – when a band continues to progress while maintaining their creative core. It’s a really hard path to navigate. If an act sticks to the script, things get bland; if they go somewhere too weird, they lose fans (and often themselves, too). “Stucco” nails the balance. It’s the same Parlors with an updated sonic approach. In drummer Dan Fullam’s words: “We feel that Stucco shows a growth, or at least a step in a new and interesting direction, in terms of songwriting and sense of melody while still maintaining our core sound.”
Like earlier tracks, “Stucco” is smart.
The tones (specifically, the industrial, one-note guitar riff that beautifully bridges the verse and the pre-chorus) were evoked by Ramin Djawadi’s Westworld soundtrack, and the lyrical themes center around the ideas that pervade the show – that the perception of a person is far from reality, that we all make machinations to be seen in our chosen lights.
Your eyes look the same when you’re close up
Just off a blue tone
I bet under your coat, sleeves are rolled up
Pretending you’re cold
I love those lines from the second pre-chorus. As in Westworld, Parlors recognize there’s something odd under the facade. There’s something just off a blue tone. The bridge drives the point home:
There’s two of you and one me
Only real with your hair slicked gold
Westworld is far from the first story to examine the gap between our expectations of humanity and reality, of course. To round out the song’s narrative concepts, Parlors turned to similar ideas from a jazz-age-source: F. Scott Fitzgerald (you may have heard of The Great Gatsby).
“(In The Beautiful and Damned) Fitzgerald explores the idea that some of the things people wanted, or people that these characters wanted to be with, were in fact only in their dreams — the real-life versions were always flawed,” says Fullam.
Those ideas are true and they’re hard.
The gap between expectation and reality – especially applied to our perceptions of the people close to us – is a haunting thing. We love people, we lose people, we find them again, and we’re disappointed to find that the people we lost weren’t quite the people we loved. We often don’t get what we want. The things we want often don’t exist.
“Stucco” grapples with those ideas in a way that’s honest, unsettling, and downright enjoyable. It’s an exciting next step for the band. And if the new sound means there are two versions of Parlors – the one you expected and the one that’s real – I have good news for you:
The real Parlors is profoundly good.