Parallels’ 2010 debut, Visionaries, was a series of analogue driven, electro-patterns and relentless club beats. And if the song titles alone (Dry Blood, Nightmares) weren’t enough to suggest this wasn’t all about the prosaic pop, the music was more happy to flirt with a more retro, industrial 80’s. Just check the aforementioned Dry Blood or Magnetics.
But don’t expect more of the same on XII. Parallels’ sophomore release sounds like they’ve been living in a helium balloon for the last two years, on a strict diet of sugary drinks and chart overkill. It’s like someone has tweaked the pitch levels so everything sounds a little higher, even singer Holly Dodson’s voice sounds affected. Maybe she inhaled too much of the helium.
The first few listens were a struggle, a futile attempt to differentiate between songs. Lack of melody can do that to a record. The continual barrage of synths and tightly compressed beats seem jammed in overdrive, Dodson helplessly trying to throw a song into the mix – but failing more often than not.
The single, Moonlight Desires, is the clear highlight, the luxury of space and time making all the difference, as does the chorus with its memorable hook. It sounds deeper, the arpeggio and lowly keys allowing Dodson to remind us of her ability to deliver a glistening pop tune. There are other moments, such as Dover, that work, but they need to be led away from the crowd to be given half a chance.
As an album, XII is far too over-produced, over-crowded and over-bearing. Melody and human emotion are seemingly an after-thought, which is a shame as they’re kind of essential for quality pop.
- Sophia Ward-