Parker and Lily: Hello Halo

Ben Varkentine

Parker and Lily

Hello Halo

Label: Orange
US Release Date: 2001-06-26

Parker and Lilly are a dream pop band formed in New York early last year. Vocalist Parker Noon sings in the breathy trademark of that style, it seems meant to approximate the haunted quality of a Chet Baker but never approaches his singularity. Pianist Lily Wolff mixes a 1950s instrumental sound (think "Sleepwalk" with lounge music). Guest musicians (the credits are maddeningly vague as to who's in the band and who is not) fill the rest of the roles.

The songs are so slow you think they must be on painkillers and so tediously serious you'll want to throw on some Thompson Twins to get some air (well, I wanted to, anyway; insert pop/rock band to your own taste here). One song, "Tokyo", sounds like it might be going somewhere more playful for a second but soon returns to the minimalist, careful and dull "pop". This lack of variety adds to the monotonous effect of the already-slow songs. Unlike Violet Indiana, a superficially similar duo, Parker and Lily's emotions have not (so far) begun to come through after repeated listening, and for all its obvious construction the music seems less than intricate.

It's perfectly decent, but my friends, this is once again what I've taken to calling "wallpaper music". Pleasant and functional, but not something you should ever be expected to pay particular attention to. The vibe is just too last year's leftovers, not too shabby but unoriginal, a collection of indistinct yawns as vague as Gracie Allen but without any of her humor or charm.

The production is negligible, which doesn't help. I'm not saying they should have called Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but something might have been done to freshen their sound. It all seems preset and the results are, if not completely unsuccessful, then certainly nondescript. No one song really stands out above another, but . . . look, I'm repeating myself, which may indicate some of the troubles with this record. It doesn't add anything, it doesn't cry out to be listened to again. Most of all, it doesn't make me want to hear from them ever again.

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