Written 21st May 2013:
Parlour Flames – Parlour Flames
The Band: Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs (guitars, keyboards, organs, e-bow, backing vocals), Alan ‘Vinny Peculiar’ Wilkes (lead & backing vocals, guitars, piano), Ollie Collins (bass), Che Beresford (drums)
So today’s review sees the release of the eponymous debut album from the Manchester-based 2-piece Parlour Flames (@ParlourFlames if you wish to follow the band on Twitter). Formed primarily of Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs (Yes him who used to play guitar in Oasis!) and singer, song-writer, poet Alan Wilkes, who performs under the alias Vinny Peculiar, the band this week release their 10-track debut on Cherry Red records. So let’s cut to the chase and find out what the band and record are all about.
1. Manchester Rain
2. Sunday Afternoon
3. Get in the Van
4. Never Heard of You
5. I’m in a Band
6. Lonely Girls & Horses
7. Jump the Brook Ruth
8. Pop Music, Football & Girls
9. Broken Hearted Existentialist
10. Too Soon the Darkness
‘Manchester Rain’ opens the record and sets the album’s tone well with a distinctly psychedelic guitar solo, which runs through the heart of the track before we first hear Vinny’s gentle, softly-sung vocals on the album, with poetic-style lyrics which are a main feature throughout the record, the chorus featuring the line “All the fields are brown/And the buildings are grey/In the North of England/On a winters days”. The track coasts along nicely and features spoken-word vocals from Bonehead towards the second half it. ‘Sunday Afternoon’ follows and is a gentle, charming laid-back song for the listener, with acoustic guitars cleverly interspersed with soothing brass sections. The track is quite subtle overall, with a steady blend of instruments throughout including a nice piece on the flute, to add to the calm, carefree nature of the track that Vinny’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics depict.
Third track ‘Get in the Van’ initially sees a percussion-driven track backed with swirling acoustic and electric guitars. This is again quite another psychedelic track with a subtle baggy Manchester feel to it, before Vinny’s repeated, trippy lines of “Get in the Van/Get in the Van” midway through it. ‘Never Heard of You’ is a slow, downbeat piano ballad the main focus of which are the lyrics depicting the song’s individual’s tale of reflecting on former glories of once being in a successful band “Hey did I tell you I was on Top of the Pops/I met Ruby Flipper and Sam Fox” being just one of a few poignant, cheeky lines featured in a slow yet captivating track, melodically closing with backing e-bow. ‘I’m in a Band’ continues the piano lead tracks on the album at this point and is almost a ‘part-two’ to the previous track, opening initially with slow individual piano notes played between Vinny’s lyrics, before the track gathers a little more momentum, with a gentle acoustic folk melody helping to build up the track accompanied with gentle electric guitar solos and flute, it’s a very serene track.
‘Lonely Girls & Horses’ is a bit more of an uplifting track and much like earlier track ‘Sunday Afternoon’ shares a cheeky jolly melody again backed with brass trumpets which really adds depth to it, while playfully closing with tinkering piano notes. ‘Jump the Brook Ruth’ has much more of a scuzzy guitar edge to it. It’s another track on the record with quite a baggy feel about it, with Vinny occasionally backing with the track’s title “Jump the Brook Ruth” before the repeated psychedelic line midway through the song “What an evil little boy”. Also listen out very carefully for rare vocals from Bonehead on this track! Next up we have ‘Pop Music, Football and Girls’, which was actually the first track I heard by the band. What we have here is quite literally a delightful Indie-pop track, again with gentle flowing guitars, understated piano notes and whimsical lines “Pop music, football and girls/Nothing else matters in this world/Decent tunes and the beautiful game/A night on the town with Jenny and Jane”. It’s another track on the record that captures this cheeky yet charming side of what the band are about.
Penultimate track ‘Broken Hearted Existentialist’ (try saying that after a few beers!), opens with a low-key, gentle electric guitar riff. The track has a real spaced-out, distant vibe to it and is arguably the most trippy track on the record with even the surreal line “Existentialist, what does that mean?” subtly thrown in there; this track reminds me very much of the sound of The Beatles on Revolver. The album closes with ‘Too Soon the Darkness’ another calm, tranquil, understated track, lyrically poignant and quite bleak, it appears a very personal track and comes across as such and is somewhat of a ballad to close the album with.
So in closing, this is a very nice debut album from Parlour Flames. If you are expecting a rocky, early-Oasis sounding album because of the connection with Bonehead, you will be way off the mark! What we have here are a collection, of gentle, understated melodies with some nice Indie-pop tracks throughout capturing a gentlemanly Englishness to the record as a whole, especially with the cheeky tongue-in-cheek lyrics featured throughout. This is clearly an album with a lot of thought and care poured into it and as such takes a few listens to fully appreciate. I’m going to award this one 7 Sunday Afternoon’s out of 10, for what is essentially an easy-listening, chilled-out record from the Manchester duo.
Pop Music, Football and ReviewsFlynny
Track 1 ‘Manchester Rain’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE-z00w-v7M
Track 8 ‘Pop Music, Football and Girls’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdEkXqIsS3c