Pop-rock is something of a loaded phrase. While talented bands of all sorts claim this genre as home, the scene itself is saturated with talentless, generic, photogenic bands who sound and look the same. Yet, despite this unfortunate oversaturation, it is still possible for bands with skill to stand out. Such is the case with Charlottesville, Virginia’s Parachute. After landing on the Billboard charts with their debut album, 2009’s Losing Sleep, the band has returned with their sophomore effort The Way It Was, a phenomenal record that not only shows that the band is giving no signs of a sophomore slump, but also that the summer 2011 is shaping to be an excellent one for music.
The record starts on a high note with the upbeat, smooth riffing of “White Dress,” which combines lead vocalist Will Anderson’s voice with a twinkling keyboard line that weaves in and out of the verses and chorus and into the orchestral opening of “You And Me.” To say that this slick, saccharine, and catchy track is amongst the album’s worst songs speaks volumes of the album itself. Even at its worst, it presents an excellent feast for the listener’s ears, and so the album continues. The band uses a variety of elements to varying levels of success. Gang vocals, while tacky at times (see “Something To Believe In”), manages to pay off in the long run (as can be seen in such gems as “What I Know”). Meanwhile, the acoustic guitar is used sparingly to provide sonic variety to the album. Yet, on this album, the band’s greatest strength lies in their control of dynamics to present a variety of moods, from the heartbreak and mourning of “Forever And Always” to the lovestruck pop of “Kiss Me Slowly.” The band’s greatest control can be seen on the album final track, the obligatory “epic,” “Philadelphia.” Over the course of seven minutes, the listener is treated to a sparse, very out-of-color track that finds the members channeling Death Cab For Cutie as opposed to the Plain White Ts.
Without a doubt, The Way It Was is excellent. It is wonderful to see truly competent pop-rock bands in today’s scene, and, if the success of their previous album is any indication, the band will find themselves even further into the stratosphere with this release.
2. You And Me
3. Something To Believe In
4. Forever And Always
5. What I Know
6. American Secrets
7. Kiss Me Slowly
Parachute (formerly Sparky's Flaw) is a five-member pop band hailing from Charlottesville, Virginia, currently signed to Mercury Records. The band's first major label release, Losing Sleep, debuted exclusively on iTunes on May 2009. Formerly known as Parachute VA, the band dropped the "VA" for legal reasons. The band's members, Will Anderson, Kit French, Alex Hargrave, Johnny Stubblefield, and Nate McFarland, have been touring for the past two years and have shared the stage with the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift among others.... read more