[7 February 2010]
For the past decade, musical jack-of-all-trades James Huggins has split time playing and recording with various Elephant 6-related bands like Great Lakes, Essex Green, Marshmallow Coast, and most prominently, indie psych-pop darlings Of Montreal. Despite spreading his considerable talents fairly thin, Huggins, who records under the alias James Husband, still found time to write and record enough solo material between 2003 and 2007 from which to compile his debut release, A Parallax I. Forgoing the schizophrenic electronic pop that Of Montreal has dealt in recently, A Parallax I not only finds Huggins reverting to the band’s earlier influences (psychedelic-era Beatles, the Kinks) but earlier recording processes as well; the album was recorded on various formats, including cassette, analog, and digital.
Surprisingly, A Parallax I manages to weave a colorful-yet-cohesive tapestry from disparate sound bites reminiscent of everything from jangly ‘60s pop to swirling, loopy mid-‘90s Elephant 6 indie rock. However, largely because of a lack of lyrical substance, A Parallax I never amounts to more than the sum of its parts, which is essentially a pleasantly nostalgic sound collage. “Why don’t we just reject all evil forces and build a resistance against all wickedness?” Huggins muses on “The Darkestness”. Like the sugary melodies Huggins whips up all over A Parallax I, this rallying cry tastes sweet enough at first but ultimately never satisfies.