Parlor Walls have always been a band that I’ve told myself I’d “get around to.” They’ve been around for years now, and when I was playing music and had the time to do “weekend tours” to Brooklyn, I always saw their name popping up for recommendations. Their setup intrigued me, but I guess I just didn’t have the developed mindset I’ve accrued over the years to give them a chance.
Cut to: 2020, and my god what the hell is wrong with me? Why didn’t I listen to this band years ago? Why was I wasting my time waiting to see what Parquet Courts or Preoccupations would release next? Grow up, god dammit.
Alyse Lamb and Chris Mulligan make up the atmospheric duo that is Parlor Walls. Lamb, on guitar and vocals, is a force to be reckoned, — hurling out crushing, steel-blow lyrics with heart-palpitating guitar licks. Mulligan, the drum and synth wizard behind Lamb, provides such uneasy tempos and rhythms throughout that you feel transported to a sci-fi hallucinatory world a la mushrooms and Alex Garland.
“Lunchbox” is the standout here—“is it love you run after?” sung hauntingly by Lamb over and over while the beat envelopes you into a warped horror like a Massive Attack song on too much Benadryl. “Violets” follows right after, catapulting you into a poppy dreamworld to wake up in, incorporating shimmering synth and a pulsating drum beat that drives the song into a gorgeous sunset. They’re like the Eurythmics that didn’t give a fuck.
It’s an album that comes off like a twist ending: the songs aren’t what you expect. They take avenues that you don’t see coming, making the experience so much more fun. Best example: “Pignafore>Ignite”, a track that follows the elegance of “Violets” but takes a hard right onto a dirt road leading out to what can only be described as Fury Road. I literally felt like I was in a Mad Max film while cooking dinner. We all love when change isn’t too extreme, but this is the kind of album you need right now to throw a wrench in your day.