Elwood: The Parlance of Our Time

The Parlance of Our Time
Palm Pictures

When it comes to white boys trying the hip-hop thang, however subtle or nonchalantly, the result is almost always bittersweet: sure, it’s catchy and moveable, but where’s the substance? Like G Love and The Getaway People, North Carolina native Elwood’s debut, The Parlance of Our Time, leaves the same taste in your mouth: you can’t deny it’s catchy, that you want to listen to it and enjoy it, but you can’t place your finger on why it’s not terrible. Love’s grooves are almost always to die for, but when it comes to the all-important lyrical layer, the package the rhythm comes in, there’s definitely something missing. Similarly, Parlance gives the impression it’s the perfect topless Margarita summer album, lazy and suggestive, but it lacks the content and emotion that could make a good record a great one.

Sure, after the refreshing swagger of the opening cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown,” and the riff-heavy tickle of the smooth “Slow,” you’re hooked. In all honestly, Parlance never loses that momentum, whether it be on the slick charm of “Dive,” with it’s hook reminiscent of Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out,” or on the boisterous “Peaches.” Parlance‘s 10 songs, in their own way, would all fit as well on an FM radio as a frat party — they’re extremely well crafted and inviting.

Lyrically, however, you feel cheated. The chirping horns, infectious beat and guitar plucking draw you happily into “Red Wagon,” but when you hear “Star twinkle, twinkle bright / I’m in love with you tonight / I’ve been sitting here at home / Staring at that telephone,” you start to second guess yourself. And “Bush’s” “I wonder what to do with this girl / Should I push her in the bush / Should I take her downtown,” is just silly. It’s the same feel you get with the Beastie Boys, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, or Young MC, but not as endearing. Still, not everyone is Bob Dylan or Fred Durst. You play to your strengths, and The Parlance of Our Time definitely displays Elwood’s knack for eclectic, likeable songs that stick with you long after the guilt associated with liking them in the first place has subsided.