From the opening harmonies on "Come On" to its reprise during First Against the Wall's closing seconds, the Parlaphone aims for one goal: compositional mastery. This disc's ten tracks are expertly built and realize the full potential of the band's rhythm section, Peter Arzeno's powerhouse drumming and the frenetic fretwork of Adolfo Dorta. Their intrinsic jelling sets up a flawless springboard for Fernando Galvez's guitar and vocals, which set the tone with sugary/gruff elements and cement the trio's effectiveness.
First Against the Wall's pop landscapes dive into thick depths with expert and creative fills, fluctuating vocal treatments, subtle keyboards/effects, and an urge to invite experimentation into the groundwork. Lyrically, the Parlaphone pens minute narratives open to surrealism and traditional pop fodder. Lust and scorn play out in the eerie "Just Because." "How could I fix you? Bring me a knife, cut your lips, your eyes, your tears are wasted," sings Galvez. These tracks fall somewhere among the alternative jazz-punk of the Minutemen, the Pixies, and Dinosaur Jr.
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"This Fish Is Dead," "Music to a Car Chase," and "In Dreams" give the second half of the album middle-length jams that anchor the overall effort well. Distinct and reflective of the musicians' sensibilities, the ten songs exist within parameters marked by a less-is-more attitude that does not detract from the epic-ness of the compositions. It is unfortunate that, after a final concert on April 2, the Parlaphone will be entering a period of hiatus in the coming months while the members attend to personal matters, because they are clearly at the top of their abilities.