Quick word association quiz: What’s the first band name that pops to mind in relation to the words “music” and “Montreal”? If your answer is Arcade Fire, you can’t be faulted. It’s probably even what Parlovr would answer. Like Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, and company before them, Parlovr has spent the past few years carving a niche in Montreal’s competitive indie scene. Kook Soul is their second full-length album, with an EP in there as well. They’ve worked overtime to craft their own style, especially when it comes to their live show; but it’s almost as if they can’t help being compared to their hometown heroes (albeit with significantly less members).
If this is your first exposure to them, Parlovr is as tight a three-piece who play self-described “sloppy pop” can get. Speaking of sloppy, splattered throughout Kook Soul are elements of the baroque that Arcade Fire repopularized – in particular, “Do You Remember?” and “Just Marriage” hearken back to “We Used to Wait” and “Month of May”, respectively, from 2010’s The Suburbs.
There is also a garage/soul side to Parlovr akin to Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears (minus the groovy horn section, however) that reveals itself as the album moves forward. “Now That You’re Gone”, “Amaze-Me-Jane”, and “General Hell (True Love Fades)” all sound grandiose even while stripped to bare-bones, ’50s rock ’n’ roll essentials. Bilingual bandmates Alex Cooper and Louis Jackson, along with drummer Jeremy MacCuish, seamlessly go halvsies on guitar duties as well as wailing, lovelorn vocals. Both on record and on stage, Parlovr do an awful lot with what doesn’t seem like very much.
And if you follow the tracklisting on Kook Soul, there’s a noticeably thematic arc that goes from the ecstasy of love and the sanctity of marriage to bitter breakup and relationship dissolution, complete with dark, wavy Depeche Mode synths from keyboardist Cooper. Kook Soul is a pretty heady listen that will help push Parlovr one step closer to becoming an integral part of Montreal’s music conversation.
Essential Tracks: “Amaze-Me-Jane”, “Now That You’re Gone”, and “Bad Faith”