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Ambiguoso

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Album Review

In some cases, quirky artists have also been flat-out goofy artists. Bands ranging from the Ramones to the B-52's to Buttsteak to Freezepop have been shining examples of absurdist humor carried to a delightfully fun extreme. But quirkiness isn't necessarily synonymous with goofiness, and on Parlour Steps' Ambiguoso, one hears a quirky and somewhat humorous band that is also an introspective band. This Vancouver, Canada-based alternative pop/rock/indie rock unit definitely has a sense of humor, but the humor that one finds on melodic, artsy tracks such as "Gargoyles Passion," "Hot Romance," "A Pagan and a Cook," and "Thieves of Memory" isn't the wacky humor of the Dickies' "You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)" or Buttsteak's "Felt Up by a Mormon." Rather, Parlour Steps' humor is dry and subtle; it is humor that doesn't jump right out at you, but is present nonetheless — and not one of the songs on this late 2006/early 2007 recording could honestly be described as laughs for the sake of laughs. Ultimately, Parlour Steps' lyrics are serious-minded, pensive, and contemplative; this is deep-thinking music, and Parlour Steps' blend of quirkiness and serious-mindedness comes through both musically and lyrically. Someone who listened to this 49-minute CD without understanding a word of English or having access to a translation of the lyrics would still get the impression that these Canadians, despite their quirkiness, were very analytical and reflective. That non-English-speaking person would be swept in by the band's attractive sound and their frequent male vocals/female vocals interaction, and he would likely assume that Parlour Steps had a lot more going on lyrically than a desire for some fun. Ambiguoso is a memorable, nicely crafted outing from this Canadian outfit.

Biography

Formed: Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Parlour Steps frontman Caleb Stull dubs his band's music "thought rock," a rather cringe-inducing term that suggests considerably more ponderousness and pretension than the Vancouver, British Columbia, quartet shows in its music. Like fellow Canadian indie rockers ranging from Destroyer to the Arcade Fire, Parlour Steps are unafraid of an epic, expansive sound, but the folk, country, and jazz influences in their music make them sound a bit like a north-of-the-border version of the Decemberists. Parlour...
Full bio
Ambiguoso, Parlour Steps
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