Just by looking at the album art on their latest release Constant Release, you can tell that Parts & Labor is a band that take pride in the crafting of their work. The art is made by the band specifically for the measure of their albums. If you look closely you can see that the field and tree are actually a collage of multi-colored hands along with a sky filled with clouds comprised of what seems to be dental x-rays.
The same charming creative attention is heard in Parts & Labor’s LP. The band although only formed in 2002, has been extremely consistent in their production of music, this already being their fifth album. While some say that this album is somewhat in a lull in terms of any progression or layering they had been developing, it is a pleasant and solid work. Constant Future works as an example of how sometimes a band doesn’t need to incorporate new elements to create an enjoyable record.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, the band has created a refreshing mixture of electronic and rock. The drumming propels each song, the bass is buzzing, and synths are used, but in all of the right places. All of the different layers to their noise/pop rock sound make for very different sounding tracks. Some (“Outnumbered,” “Echo Chamber”) are strong examples of a rock-oriented Parts & Labor, whereas certain tracks take a break from the blasting energy (“A Thousand Roads,” “Pure Annihilation”).
In some moments the vocals take a backseat to the captivating noise that Constant Future presents, but in tracks such as “Rest” and “Hurricane” you can get lost in the soothing and whimsical vocal melodies. For example, in “Hurricane” the lyrics are extremely dreamy: “The hissing of the humming birds as they swish against the breeze, busting slowly into the only lonely tree.” Somehow this less frenzied feeling occurs even as they rock in each of these songs.
At some points I heard Parts & Labor as an amalgam of elements of The Smiths and Wolf Parade, and I mean that in a good way. The more I listened to Constant Release the more I appreciated all that the band brings to the album. Maybe not challenging themselves with something different, but still managing to create an interesting and versatile album.
LISTEN: “Constant Future”
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P
Key Tracks: “Outnumbered”, “Constant Future”, and “Rest”.
Recommended if you like: Cloud Nothings, Marnie Stern and Abe Vigota.
W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!