Kicking into gear with the superb indie hit that is Managing Director, the UK’s own ever-intriguing creative duo Poundshop Parka deliver their long-awaited debut album An Air Balloon Over Tooting Broadway.
Raw guitars and freely meandering rhythms meet with identity of voice and vast poetic imagery to guide us into the project. Often blurring the lines between melody and spoken word, the style is familiar yet unpredictable, accessible yet interesting, and so are the ideas and stories within.
Stylish riff-work from the electric injects a nostalgic and spacious rock anthem for Common, the second track. Catchy in both progression and the sheer energy and repetition of certain phrases, the song quickly elevates the collection and provides an addictive edge to keep fans coming back to replay. Something of an alternative dancefloor filler of timeless origins.
Released through B Side Recording Label, this album undoubtedly presents the unique Poundshop Parka sound and approach to creativity in a wholly immersive, somewhat retro yet refreshingly organic manner. Freedom of expression leads the way, with the hazy vocal production and subsequent Arctic Monkeys-style guitar work of am injecting an early fork in the road. From here there’s no telling what lies ahead.
Singles like the beautifully reflective, acoustic Park Bench soften the intensity down to the bare essentials, as does the later emerging Syd. Other new songs like T.Rex (a personal favourite) keep that mellow contemplation and jam-style authenticity at the forefront – making it easy to appreciate the musicianship, the set-up and devotion of the band to each process.
T.Rex blends delicacy and heavy, sludgy fuzz for a dreamy and poetic look at emotional baggage. The vocals are gorgeous, that raspy yet gentle Pete Doherty quality carrying the weight of the song’s journey towards resolve. Consistently there’s a sense of the live show being the place to really see these stories and moments come to life and connect.
Tuneful simplicity and short lines of poetic and imaginative observations rain down for the blissfully laid-back but yearnful Air Balloon – slowly doubling down on rising anticipation, with welcomed piano, pace and additional vocals as things evolve. Lyrically sublime, this title-esque-track shines a ray of light across the depths and memories that make up the album. Another highlight.
The recognisable fingerpicking and subtle strings of Room appear towards the very end, musicianship standing tall once more and taking its time to set a mood that means something and reaches out with pure humanity.
Also including a couple of bonus tracks, the live version of T.Rex (Abbey Road), and an equally live, unexpected take on the renowned The Long and Winding Road, this album is something special.
Celebrating the intimacy and thoughtfulness of songwriting with purpose, the simple joy and melancholy united that emerge during contemplation, when playing music in a relaxed, fearless state, with someone you know well. This project slowly but surely gifts the listener more and more opportunities to free themselves from the weight of the outside world. With each revisit, some new lyric or moment stands out. A real pleasure to lose yourself within for a while.