The Hidden Names
Nine Mile Records
Relaxed Canadians make the best indie pop; it’s some mixture of politeness, self-effacing humor, and national health care. Parlour Steps is smack in the middle of the pack — their soaring harmonies and crispy bright guitar work are intriguing, radio-friendly, and complexly listenable. Lead singer Caleb Stull works on guitars as well, his voice reminding me of early XTC. The songs each stand alone; the lyrics are clear and accessible, if a bit forgettable. Topics range from the typical love gone awry (“Miraculous”) to love recovered (“Sleeping City”) to world destruction (“The Catastrophists”). Songs build and reach a clear pinnacle then fade away like a good novel. The only problem I see here is Parlour Steps has some stiff competition from the Rosie Thomas’s and Mark Mallman’s of the world, and while there is nothing to dislike on this nicely mixed album, there’s not a lot that makes these clean cut musicians jump out either. Still, they might pop out a hit one day, and it might even lurk here. But I’m just not hearing it today.