Can’t Come Down
A disclosure followed by an anecdote: The Parties’ drummer John Morgan was a college classmate of mine. One weekend a few of us crashed at his house, where, snooping through his CD collection, I came across the Ride album Carnival of Light in the stack of discs next to his stereo. There’s no good reason why that incidental detail should have stuck in my mind, but as coincidence would have it, that album is writ large over The Parties’ debut, Can’t Come Down, though the latter is tilted more heavily toward the pop end of the spectrum. There’s also a track or two that brings to mind Spinal Tap’s “(Listen to the) Flower People.” Listeners who find either of those two touchstones promising will dig — yes, dig — The Parties’ safe, retro guitar rock.
The Parties formed in San Francisco in 2004, and the four years that most of them spent gigging before releasing their first full-length shows in the polish and cohesion of Can’t Come Down. It’s not a groundbreaking album by any means; anyone with access to a couple of chart albums from the late ’60s will have heard most of what’s on offer here. But good pop doesn’t have to be groundbreaking (if it did, the entire genre would be in deep trouble), and The Parties have clearly found their forte in the sugary hooks and airy vocal harmonies that run through laid-back, pillowy tracks like “Love for Sale” as well as bouncy rockers like “Radio.” Those hooks and harmonies have a tendency to bump aside whatever else might be playing in your head. The lyrics could do with a bit more substance and fewer dial-a-rhymes, but then again, The Parties have in mere name alone made their agenda pretty clear.
The Parties: www.thepartiesrock.com