A few months ago, while browsing through one of Vancouver’s top indie record shops, I came across an older record from Parlour Steps, a local act. I’d heard of them in passing and I was intrigued. I asked one of the clerks about the band, and in a typically succinct manner, he replied carelessly, “Good stuff. Smart music.”
In a few words, this dude had said a lot. “Smart music” is a bit of a loaded term, but months after listening to their 2007 release Ambiguoso, I still can’t think of a better word to describe their latest LP, The Hidden Names than that original description: “Smart.”
Precisely crafted, The Hidden Names rarely misses a beat with pitch-perfect indie pop gems that sound insanely mature while rarely taking themselves too seriously. The Hidden Names follows pop patterns that have been proven by Parlour Steps successors in the past, while brushing a fresh coat of relaxed yet progressive paint on these patterns. Clearly, Parlour Steps owe a debt of gratitude to their surroundings, as the natural beauty of their hometown of Vancouver almost seeps through these deft, bouncy and altogether clever thirteen tracks.
“If God has a sense of humour, she’s got a cruel temper” lead singer Caleb Stull coos on “Miraculous,” a bouncy piano-infused little ditty. It’s this kind of mature playfulness that can be heard everywhere on The Hidden Names, yet another step in the right direction for Parlour Steps.
By Joshua Kloke[Rating: 3.5/5]