Seriously, what is in the water in Melbourne? Parsnip are the latest fantastically bizarre band to come out of this quite incredible musical hub. An all-female four-piece with a whacky sense of humour. There are lots of silly, catchy hooks and childish vocals. Their debut album ‘When The Tree Bears Fruit’ comes via Trouble In Mind.
It’s giddy, jangly and sweet, with simple arrangements.
For a Ride is brilliant. The “Carrot Rope” wah guitar and keyboard vie for attention with the vocal melody. Each is as silly as the other. The ploddy bass and Disco Not Disco drumming complete a hugely enjoyable opener. Lift Off is a more jangly affair, with its lightly distorted rock n roll guitars. The retro baseball ground organ sound, a sweet melody and great backing vocals render it super catchy. A total earworm. It’s the sort of song you can start singing along to after only hearing the first verse and chorus. They crank up the guitar with fuzz on the two paced Lighthouse Reaction, which shifts between an upbeat instrumental and a lilting chorus, with a great bassline that carries the dreamy keyboards.
Sprouts is faintly ridiculous – cute and cartoonish. It feels like it was very much the result of a few ideas that were squashed together.Too late is a candyfloss fuelled ode to lost opportunities, with a middle eight that provides a joyous unpredictability.Parsnip sound like they are always having a lot of fun. They’re not too self-conscious to use obvious and commonly used rock n roll hooks, aligned with a melodic simplicity that gives you the feeling that you’ve heard these songs before. This is displayed throughout When the Tree Bears Fruit, particularly on Lift Off, Too Late and Rip Off.
What absolutely sets Parsnip apart is the fantastic group vocals which lift everything up and add a nostalgic edge.
At times it’s like a small school choir, only more competent. Soft Spot is perhaps the best example of this. There is a great playfulness in tracks like Lullaby and My Window, with stop start structures, odd syncopation and instruments that seems slightly out of tune. There are similarities to the cute lullabies of Dragibus and the sugar-high pop of Citrus. The song writing feels more ambitious in these later tracks and they add extra instruments like glockenspiel and saxophone to accentuate parts.
They even play with some Smile-esque animal samples and percussion on Seafarer that emulates a horse clip-clopping all through the song until it ends with a short, slowed down reprise of the instrumental section of Lighthouse Reaction. This would be a fine ending to When The Tree Bears Fruit, but the band still have time for one more. This comes in the fabulously sweet Trip The Light Fantastic, tying things up with a fittingly giggly ending.
Parsnip, on their debut album, have created a unique take on paisley pop that doesn’t feel out of place amongst their contemporaries.
When The Tree Bears Fruit is out on 30th August 2019 via Trouble In Mind Records.
You may enjoy this if you like: Terry, Primo, Citrus, Dragibus