Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's nice to be able to seek informative and insightful information about certain songs because it's part of the process of our sessions mostly because it typically brings forth that information and insight that was originally being looked for. In the case of Portland's Parenthetical Girls, the valued insight is when lead singer and songwriter Zac Pennington explains in his description of the song "Four Words" that he's heard it too many times, from too many people, that they thought the band's latest album, Entanglements, sounds like a musical to them. It's good to know that the opinion has been run into the dirt and that one should try to avoid doing it again and being the real, redundant ass. So, Entanglements isn't supposed to be a musical, but it is something rich with a kind of twirling and exasperated radiance that flows with a bashful insistence. Pennington brings much sophistication, almost a literate grandeur to his very idiosyncratic and specific songs about awkwardness and the flighty flings with confusing and sneaky suspicions - the worries that become phobias, the interests that become secrets only because they have to be secrets. The music carries with it invisible baubles, these splendiferous sorts of flourishes and brushstrokes that are achingly pretty and which unfold like spidery legs, roaming around making circuitous patterns through the light air, making curlicues and blossoms before kissing you on the neck like a smoke monster. The prettiness of the orchestral sound isn't of the variety that would attract young girls and tweens to the party, but is instead for the outcasts, those who shy away from bright lights and those who prefer all that might be cult-ish-ly admired than those who prefer spending their days at the mall, or those who can't refrain from text messaging every second of every day to save their lives. These are musical ideas that put on interestingly fancy clothes and hit the ballroom. It's easy to imagine the songs themselves taking to a place like the Biltmore - America's only castle, built in Asheville, NC by the Vanderbilts - the way it was in some of the old and browned photographs. The floor of the great hall, hard and oiled - so fine for dancing and spinning like a human wheel. The ceiling above, reaching up to hundreds and hundreds of feet, dwarfing perspective and making everyone feel their insignificance as they continue trying to live it out, to get past it. In a darkened room, maybe with the shaft of moonlight breaking through the drapes, this music could dance amid emptiness as the mounted heads of deer and other felled animals, creating just the sort of interesting myriad that Pennington might have had in mind when he started writing and putting together this non-musical of his.
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