Album Review: Parasol – Not There

Parasol – Not There

 
I feel like I’ve been living with this record for a long time, but in reality it’s only been a week.  I can’t remember exactly how I heard about Parasol, but I’ve been aware of them for a while, due to an impressive range of splits & single releases over the last year or two. They’re a Boston-based trio and can often be found in the ‘RIYL’ section in articles about bands like All Dogs, Swearin, Waxahatchee, Bratty, Vivian Girls and the like, which is probably what attracted me to them in the first place.  However, when I first stumbled across a stream of their new record “Not There” online I knew I was dealing with something special. Now, in all honestly I’m not a fan of streaming records, I much prefer to buy a record and have it on my ipod so I can really absorb it.  Last week I was finally able to do this with this record thanks to Nervous Nelly Records, who had it available to purchase on their Bandcamp page, which I swiftly did, and I’ve hardly stopped listening to it since.
What Lily, Vicky & Jake from Parasol have delivered here is an incredible collection of anthemic, fuzzy indie gems with a real pop-punk sensibility, laced with emotive lyrics and the occasional sweet guitar solo thrown in for good measure. One of those rare albums where I’m genuinely unable to pick a favourite track.
Similar themes pop up time & time again throughout the record.  Themes such as frustration, anxiety, longing and wanting to belong to a community really permeate through each & every song here.  Guitarist/vocalist Lily moved from Florida to Boston, and listening to the songs on ‘Get There’, you really sense a frustration with trying to live and thrive in the city.
It all kicks off with ‘Feedback Loop’, which starts with the lyrics “I got a mouth full of daggers, and they sit on the tip of my tongue” on a track that seems to be driven by frustration with other bands in their scene and it’s a fantastic opener, but it’s on the second track ‘City Limits’ that I knew I was listening to a truly fantastic band.  This song has ‘anthem’ written all over it, and explores further themes of frustration, although this time it’s with the city of Boston, and trying to create a community and thrive but constantly being knocked back, summed up by the lyrics “we work so hard that we’re barely living.” This is a song that anyone who has moved cities could identify with, especially if they’ve done so in pursuit of a goal or dream, typified by the words “we are a transient people, but we crave a home to make.”
On ‘Edge’ a song that rails against patriarchy in their community, Lily cries “You make us feel so sick / so every day we clench our fists” and it’s another stone-cold anthem that I bet sounds incredible live.  The theme of transience is further explored in ‘At Bay’ which talks about having to consistently deal with friends leaving and having to move on.  This is probably the catchiest song on the album, with the gorgeous refrain of ‘I’m sick, I’m sick of seeing you go’
‘The Tug’ reminds us that Parasol are a punk band at heart, it’s bratty & fast and wrestles with themes of loneliness, anxiety and disconnection.  These themes continue on side 2 of the record on ‘None To Spare’ featuring lyrics like ‘We chase down time to waste it, with none to spare’ although this track deals primarily with missing a loved one, maybe a partner.  This is revisited on the next track ‘Nice To Know’ which talks about being ’scared of the heart break‘ and to public reaction to being in a same-sex relationship with Lily shouting “We don’t look right, They look twice’ over crashing drums and buzzing guitars, another track that I imagine would be a highlight in their live shows.
‘Nowhere To Go’ is up next, a beautiful indie love song, and is probably my favourite track on the record(at the time of writing at least!).  At this point I’m conscious of the fact I’ve talked about “Not There” for a while and not really given any solid indication of what Parasol sound like on this record, instead focussing on the lyrical themes to be found throughout.  Across different bandcamp releases, the tags throw up pop-punk, indie, anarcho-pop, punk, Boston etc which is all well and good, but Parasol are a truly special & unique band.  They are inevitably linked with feminist & queercore bands, as well as all the other excellent female-fronted indie bands currently making a name for themselves but on the strength of “Not There” Parasol deserve to truly rise above all of that.  They are clearly staunchly political and anti-oppressive and have an ethos that they hold dear, but they fuse this with totally relatable themes like longing, disconnection and isolation and, most importantly, incredibly catchy songs(there are SO MANY hooks on this record).  Final track “Laughing Yet” brings to mind Desaparecidos with it’s stuttering intro, and over the course of the preceding 9 tracks there is something for fans of all things punk & indie to enjoy.
Not There is available from 4 different labels: Nervous Nelly, Lauren Records, Square of Opposition & Lost Sound Records
You can read more about Nervous Nelly here
Thanks for reading.
Gary
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 PS If you search for Parasol on Bandcamp, you might stumble across this ep by a totally different band by the same name!  As chance would have it, it’s an awesome emo band, and it’s a free download, check it out.
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