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The Parties
Can't Come Down
Rainbow Quartz Records


At first glance, The Parties' album Can't Come Down might lend the impression the band comes from the path of garage rock revivalists that includes such bands as The Cynics, The Woggles, or even those Green Day members in disguise known as Foxboro Hot Tubs. Looks can certainly be deceiving, however, as a listen makes it clear quickly enough that The Parties have more in common with labelmates The Grip Weeds than they do any form of garage punk.

The album does begin promisingly enough, with an introductory guitar squall leading into starter track "Love For Sale", a track containing many of the hallmarks of sunshine pop, such as tight high harmonies, bouncy picked bass lines, guitar delay, and the like. There are other near semi-precious stones on the disc, namely, "Cold Life".

The above notwithstanding, Can't Come Down suffers from two significant flaws that cause the record to not stand up very well amongst its peers. First, the drums throughout the record sound really thin. Not quiet, just thin and pale. While that works in some places, must of the album could have used a heavier hand, either on the kit, or on the mixing board. Second, and more important, relates to the lyrics. In too many cases the lyrics are no more than a step or two removed from junior high English class, or even worse, the sort of schlock crap foisted on us by the likes of The Outfield. Phrases such as "Slide down the waterfall, I'm here to break your fall" are just too vacuous not to be a distraction.

"I'm going crazy
and I can't sleep
I'm going crazy
'cause I'm in too deep."

The above couplet pretty much speaks for itself, not to mention much of Can't Come Down.

Most of the best moments on this disc take place when the band employs 12-string guitar to good effect, and when the vocalists are harmonizing with one another. It is obvious The Parties do know how to construct a pleasant sound. The harmonies are uniformly spot-on and reminiscent of the best of varying forms of laid back pop rock. The playing is solid, and the tone is quite pleasing. If I didn't pay too much attention to the actual lyrics, I rather enjoyed the record.

As I wrote previously, looks can be deceiving. In reality, The Parties are a sometimes pleasant, yet rarely interesting, California lite psychedelic pop band who are adept at crafting a reasonably good sound, but less so at writing a memorable record. However, elements of this album are good enough musically to indicate potential at something more compelling down the road.

-David Meyer (mondogarage)

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Mike Doughty



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