Album Review: Parlour Tricks, ‘Broken Hearts/Bones’
It might be true to the point of cliché, but there's nothing quite like romantic frustration to inspire lyrics. For Parlour Tricks bandleader-frontwoman and principal songwriter Lily Cato, novelistic approaches -- inventing other people's stories -- had always seemed more appealing. But after a particularly difficult fight with her significant other, Cato began to channel some of her own personal frustrations into the material that would end up on Broken Hearts/Bones.
Cato's move towards a more personal approach invests Parlour Tricks' trademark three-part vocal harmonies with an emotional immediacy, but she maintains a sense of discretion that serves the music well. The fact that she was hesitant to write from her own point of view in the past ensures that Broken Hearts/Bones never sinks into navel-gazing or self-pity, but instead acts as a window into the collective human experience of heartbreak.
Meanwhile, the winding melody of leadoff track "Lovesongs," along with its tastefully spare, slow-building electro-pop groove, indicate right away that you're in for a fresh musical experience. Under the guiding hand of producer Emery Dobyns (Patti Smith, Noah and the Whale), the NYC sextet unfurls a complex tapestry of synth-rich pop music. As catchy and accessible as its songs are, Broken Hearts/Bones makes for a life-affirming, sophisticated listen that demands multiple sittings to fully wrap your head around the substance that it offers the ear.