Parlour Flames – Parlour Flames (Cherry Red)
CD / DL / LP
Bonehead from Oasis teams up with Vinny Peculiar on this debut of psych-rock and folk-pop tracks.
Arriving on the cusp of summer comes the debut album by Parlour Flames, an enjoyable trip through odd-pop, folk and British psychedelia. It’s an effort from an unusual duo comprised of the curiously ever-present but unsung Vinny Peculiar (Alan Wilkes) and Bonehead (Paul Arthurs), the former rhythm guitarist from Oasis.
Opener Manchester Rain seems to capture something of the sound of the city. You can almost hear the downpour falling between the beats. The lyrics portray the eeriness and the unnatural beauty contained within the bleakness of industrial Manchester. “All the fields are brown and the buildings are grey, in the North of England, on a winter’s day,” sings Peculiar. The default setting in the north west may be overcast, but there is nothing dull about the music that has come out of the region, and indeed, this beautiful song. It’s almost the exact opposite of California Dreaming by the Mamas and the Papas.
Sunday Afternoon is dreamy chamber pop with storied lyrics, brass and sixties flecked vigour. Get In The Van is as ectopic psychedelia as you’ll hear, recalling in part, The Doors and early Verve. Never Heard of You is more straightforward. It features Peculiar – accompanied by just piano, cello and acoustic guitar – singing about the troubles of a faded pop star, now operating on the fringes of the perverted society of fame, struggling with their inability to sustain their celebrity. It’s oddly positioned and appears to upset the flow of the record.
I’m in a Band restores normal service to the album. Bonehead’s chiming and sustained guitar notes frame the other instruments well, creating a distinctive aura that seems to match Peculiar’s vocals consummately. Lonely Girls and Horses places Peculiar in the position of a Salfordian Ray Davies, taking a character song and building an irresistible sixties beat around it.
Jump The Brook Ruth features a kaleidoscopic childhood story – something we all have buried somewhere within our subconscious. The feedback, crashing cymbals and echoed guitar notes, allied to the driving rhythm, create a compelling sound that is further enhanced by sporadic use of brass within the arrangement.
Next up is a song that all British men of a certain age can certainly relate to. Pop Music, Football and Girls pays tribute to the triumvirate of male gratification. It’s gentle folk-pop to accompany you all summer long and transports you straight back to those days when the FA Cup final was the most important day of the season.
Broken Hearted Existentialist is another searching psych-rock number, while Too Soon to Darkness is touching lyrically, telling the story of a lost loved one. It builds itself around a soaring melody and is a fitting closer.
There is no doubt that Manchester Rain and Pop Music, Football and Girls are the main attractions here, but there is enough substance contained within the remaining eight tracks to make this an album to savour. Bonehead can make a strong case for the record to be regarded as some of the best post-Oasis music that has been made by any former member, while Peculiar shines and may just get the credit he has long deserved.