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- Posted on May 14th 2010 2:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Lest Toronto electro trio Parallels ever be accused of wearing their influences on their (appropriately stylish) sleeves, they've boldly listed them all at the very top of their bio -- "Sounds like: New Order, Kate Bush, Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Giorgio Moroder."
Quite a heady lineup, indeed. The remarkable thing is that for a fairly new band, Parallels manage to do a good job of paying slavish homage to those lofty stylistic touchstones while still managing to find their own place in the pop continuum.
The group -- vocalist Holly Dodson, former Crystal Castles drummer Cameron Findlay, and keyboardist Joey Kehoe -- have attracted much buzz over the past year for their shiny, sexy take on retro-flavoured electro-pop that brings to mind a kind of Fleetwood Mac for the Web 2.0 set. Or, in other words, a return to the gilded pop of the 1980s for an audience that didn't actually hear it the first time around.
But while songs like 'Find the Fire' (the opening track to Parallels' recent debut full-length, 'Visionaries') certainly borrow heavily from a retro template (not unlike fellow revivalists Sally Shapiro or Cut Copy), with icy '80s-style beats exploding into a full-on disco vibe before Dodson's Kylie Minogue-meets-Stevie Nicks vocals kick in, Parallels are still able to bring something fresh to the mix. Paired up with the hot beats and sinewy synths, even lyrics like, "We'll be free inside the moonlight" somehow come off as slyly sensual instead of utterly cheesy.
The band mines all that's good about the Italo-disco approach, smartly making Dodson's vocal the centrepiece of 'Find the Fire,' all cooed "oohs" and girlish phrasing that works with the spare yet memorable arrangement. While they're clearly not reinventing the dance-pop wheel, Parallels still get off some interesting, unexpected moments, like the glockenspiel-like keyboard bits cutting through the stardust haze of the sleek melody.
Like most music made for the dancefloor, Parallels pull off that balancing act between retro and futuristic, borrowing from the past while pushing the sound forward into the present. Their take on darkly lustrous synth-pop is certainly amongst the catchiest stuff you'll hear all year. After all, given that fashion is constantly taking its cues from the '80s, we could use a soundtrack to match, right?