There’s a dreaminess to Gates’ Parallel Lives that threatens to withdrawal into a kind of pleasant white noise. It’s an album that requires attention, otherwise it gets lost — at least upon the first listen. If I hadn’t seen for myself, when recently they opened up for Thrice, the muscle they throw behind each cinematic note I may have brushed this record aside favoring instead Nothing’s Tired of Tomorrow when I was craving mellow and textural emotive rock.
And while I’m still head over heels in love with the Nothing record, this Gates release has got an undeniable pull that, with repeated listens, wraps a soft blanket around my shoulders and just makes me feel cozy. Not in a sleepy, Grandma needs a cup o’ tea kind of snoozefest, but in a comforting, kicking back on the couch kind of way. It’s in the Thom Yorke-light vocals of Kevin Dye, and the confident experimentation with guitar effects that weave through unconventional beats. It’s in the way the music can shift from straight forward arena rock balladry (“Shiver”), with a song structure that owes a nod to U2 at their “All I Want Is You” finest, to celestial neck hair raising trips of epic panoramas of color and mood (“Left Behind”) with quiet ease.
The more these songs play, the stronger they sound. “Habit” becomes this gorgeous, atmospheric melody that makes my chest hurt with its beauty. “Eyes” swims through swells of regret and yearning, using music more so than lyrics and does it all with subtle brilliance. What once sounded dreamy, soon sounds like a dream you want to stay inside of a little bit longer. There’s some fat that could’ve been cut, with the middle few tracks sounding like B-sides when compared to the strong start and finish of the album, but that’s what playlists and “skip” buttons were designed for.