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Classic Nada: Seattle’s Peter Parker, circa 1999

Posted by May 10th, 2007 No Comments »

nadabutton_thumbNow that long-time Seattle cult favorites Peter Parker have reunited, it made perfect sense to run Brendan O’Brien’s 1999 review of their debut album Migliore as our next installment of “Classic Nada.” Here it is. – Ed.

Peter Parker – Migliore! (Magic Palace)
By Brendan O’Brien

There’s a point a third of the way into Peter Parker’s debut CD when bassist/vocalist Mona Parker coos, “Get down!” that is not only one of the most sublimely cool moments to be heard on any pop record this year, but is also a perfect two-measure summation of the band’s MO. Migliore! is rife with sweet male/female vocal interplay, layered over driving rhythms and spastic Buzzcocks-style punk-pop; every note bouncing off of every other, creating a cacophonous paean to geek rock.

Migliore! is a great record, the sort of near-anthemic, driving rock that so many bedroom-pop indie kids shy away from – at a great loss. The first release on micro-indie Magic Palace, the upbeat, angular songs contained therein sound a season out of time – this album is more about speeding to Rockaway Beach than it is about donning gloves and scraping windows. The album starts to sound its best at about the same time that my car “stereo” speakers start complaining about the noise.

Lyrically, the album avoids treading on too-familiar pop music ground. Though the majority of the songs appear to be about relationships, Migliore isn’t all love songs and broken hearts. “Goldenstate” seems to warn against selling out ideals to chase success (“yeah I know it’s just a song / but they’ve got it all wrong / it goes on and on / nobody will miss you when you’re gone”), while “Meet the Beatles” documents the disintegration of a band and friendship. Songwriter/vocalist Matthew Parker’s lyrics are shot through with a healthy dose of cynicism, and his cryptic phrasing prevents anything from being too definite – you may decide that all of these songs are about your life, and you may not be wrong.

Peter Parker are as much about time and space as they are about shattered relationships and Ramones-style anonymity. The rhythm section works together like gears in a drunken clock – tempos rush and recede in fits and starts, to the point that the songs teeter on the brink of disaster. However, what sounds haphazard at first, reveals itself to be constructed with the utmost care. Every shift bassist Mona makes is echoed instantaneously by drummer Steve; the two never lose track of each other. A synergy like this is to be commended, and that this is the band’s debut makes it even more remarkable. This playfulness suits the band especially well on “Guide Dogs and Love Songs” and the aforementioned “Meet the Beatles”, two of the album’s poppier tracks, both of which stop/start a number of times to great effect. Matthew averts the math-rock curse by saturating every available space with distorted guitar, and wisely avoids showing off. Instead, he makes the guitar work for the songs, and lets the sunny harmonies take the lead.

The only questionable bit here is the final track, “Hate for Hesitation”. A veritable pop symphony with a sublime cello part, it sounds out of place in the context of the album, and seems too obvious an attempt at a grand, heartbreaking final movement. Fortunately, it’s a sad, beautiful song–enough so to be worth inclusion on Miglore!.

This is a fairly amazing effort, especially for a debut album by such a young band. Most acts don’t sound this cohesive by their third release; some acts never sound so in sync with each other. Not only is the quality of the pool of influences from which they draw inarguable, the fact that they create something fairly unique from those borrowed sounds is also impressive. Migliore! might not change the world, but with it, Peter Parker are well on their way to leaving a significant mark. – (8.5/10)

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