For a small place, Northern Ireland surely does produce an awful lot of indie/alt/post rock bands – the sort of music that the NME or BBC Radio 1 gets all hot and bothered over (and almost never visits our shores to discover). Whether said bands are Oasis fanboys, grunge lovers or Arctic Monkeys emulators, we’ve got the genre covered extensively here.
Parapa Palace, should they ever come to the attention of the NME or the like, would undoubtedly take off like a rocket. Forming in late 2013 as Lives, their name change coincided roughly with the release of their self-titled EP, followed by a double A side single ‘Myopic/Visions’ (see what they did there?).
Now, as a died-in-the-wool headbanger (and rather allergic to the NME, etc), your reviewer was prepared to be equally disdainful of this EP; however it turns out to be a curiously likeable affair. Take opening track ‘Down By the Sea’: it’s very Muse-ish, almost shoegazy but a bit too ballsy, and a rather meandering number that may be fairly loosely structured but it nonetheless an enjoyable slice of poppy alt rock. Hmm.
Track two ‘Ballad of the Brack’ sounds like the band listened to a load of David Bowie, then a load of Nirvana, then put their songwriting hats on. So there’s the wispy theatricality of Bowie at his most restrained, and the ‘quiet-loud-quiet’ crunch of grunge, all mixed in with their trademark jangly sound. It’s a combination that shouldn’t work and yet, peculiarly, it does.
It’s final song ‘The Boot’ which is the highlight, however. Sounding for all the world like an Eighties synth rock revival (The Waterboys’ ‘Whole of the Moon’ sprang to mind), it has a sweet yet rugged vibe and a real retro feel. It’s not the sort of tune you’d put on whilst preloading a drunken night out – none of this EP is – it’s more Sunday afternoon than Saturday night.
Three short(ish) tracks are all that this EP contains: a taster of things to come, as it were. Hopefully Parapa Palace continue to provide their lush alt rock (and vex metalheads) for a long time to come.