Release Date: Mar 8, 2011
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Brookyn’s Parts & Labor have a special knack for melding experimental, trance-inducing noise rock with catchy and immediate pop hooks. These two concepts may seem completely at odds, and indeed with many bands they would be, but P&L make it work. In the midst of one of the band’s churning rock songs, mostly based around frenetic drum fills, loping bass lines and histrionic, screeching keyboard melodies, wry and dulcet moments frequently pop up.
PARTS & LABOR play Parts & Labour Friday (April 15). See listing. Rating: NNNN Parts & Labor describe themselves as a noise pop band, but while similar groups sacrifice songcraft for experimentation, P&L never ignore the "pop" side of the equation. They like a good racket, sure, but the clamour always serves the songs.
Parts & Labor proudly style themselves as a ‘noise pop’ band and with this, their fifth record they really make good on the promise of that particular tag. Whilst they will be far too noisy for the X-Factor crowd and far too poppy for the Power Electronics brigade, everyone else should be very pleased indeed with the way that this Brooklyn trio manage to weld crunchy rock noise to anthemic pop hooks. The 12 tracks on offer here all follow pretty much the same template.
Like a big hug or a hand on your shoulder at just the right moment, Parts & Labor capture a sound that can only be described as reassuring on Constant Future. Whether it comes from the fuzzy warmth of the synthesizers that wrap you up like a blanket or the all-encompassing atmospherics of the vocals, there’s something about the Brooklyn band’s brand of noise pop that just feels like it’s there for you, letting you know that everything will be all right while it prepares a nice hot cup of tea to fix your frayed nerves. This isn’t to say, however, that the music lacks direction.
After nearly 10 years together, Brooklyn trio Parts & Labor has its basic sound down cold. They're a curious hybrid, combining a Lightning Bolt sonic sensibility with a Foo Fighters gift for melody. If you've spent any time going to noise shows in scuzzy basements or dank warehouse apartments, you'll recognize plenty of the ingredients they use: trebley keyboard-squeals, busy drum thunder, bellowed stentorian vocals.
If you apply the ideas of Constant Future -- about hollow innovation and not living in the moment --to music culture, Parts & Labor is exactly the kind of band that would get lost in the shuffle. As we constantly search for the next great thing, and our goldfish memories forget the thing we fell fleetingly in love with yesterday, consistency loses its value. Too bad, because Parts & Labor are as consistent a band as there has been for the last half decade.
Parts & Labor are one of those bands who seem to have changed little over the years, but if there is one thing that does separate one album from the next, it’s that their sound gets a little bit more refined every time. Stay Afraid was lo-fi noise-rock at its most raucous, while breakthrough album Mapmaker and its follow-up Receivers both channeled that into something increasingly more focused. Constant Future follows that trend - it’s by far their most accessible attempt to date, if such a word can be used to describe a band that thrives on overdriven synths, impenetrable guitars and thunderous percussion.
You have to give Parts & Labor credit for never resting on their laurels—who knows if they even have any. The Brooklyn group began with the instrumental noise of Groundswell (2003), moved toward electro-tinged, vocal-led tracks on Stay Afraid (2006), amped up the anthemics on Mapmaker (2007), and incorporated hundreds of fan-delivered samples into Receivers (2008). Throughout this process of reinvention, the band’s basic elements have remained surprisingly consistent.
Brooklyn's Parts & Labor are appropriately named: their music – part psychedelia, part noise, part all-out rock – has a distinct air of something created in a workshop, hammered and bolted together by mechanics in overalls. It's not that it sounds ramshackle and homemade, more the opposite: it's so solid and unwieldy it's hard to imagine it taking the listener's mind up into the exosphere. Where you might expect some wispy, away-with-the-drugs singing, BJ Warshaw and Dan Friel both have the kind of hectoring voices that would suit a parade ground, and Joe Wong's drumming is just as military in its rigidity.
Bands and people change. These guys used to be pretty darn noisy, appropriately so for the Brooklyn scene – Oneida, Black Dice and so forth – they emerged from in the early part of last decade. Bands and people change though, often as a result of maturing. This appears to have happened to Parts & Labor on their fifth album proper.
There is a lot of music that simply seems to lay it on thick. Whether it’s clouding the arrangements with unnecessary chords or sometimes, it’s simply adding guitar reverb for lack of a much more appropriate instrument or tone. And still, there is a great deal of musicians who are carefully adjusting every shift to always be in complete harmony.
Lykke Li This Swedish indie-pop warbler has often done a lot with a little — consider the suggestive wisps of melody all over “Youth Novels” (LL/Atlantic), her 2008 debut — but she’s no minimalist, at least not anymore. “Wounded Rhymes,” her follow-up on the same label, has thumping drums, Farfisa organs, girl-group vocal harmonies and darkly pealing guitars. It also has songs of desolate stoicism and disconsolate fury.