SXSW 2009 Preview: Part Two

Parenthetical Girls

They are: “Parenthetical Girls are a musical group operating within the pop idiom. Entanglements is the name of their recently completed full-length album. A dense, winkingly ambitious orchestral song cycle, Entanglements is an eleven-song, linear meditation on authority, adolescent sexuality, quantum mechanics, consent, and other moral ambiguities—all set to an elaborately orchestrated olio of timeworn, traditional pop forms” (SXSW web site).

Uh, yeah.

Sounds like: Lou Reed’s “Goodnight Ladies,” only with more orchestration and an actual singer

The tracks (from their MySpace site):

A Song for Ellie Greenwich
I don’t know how “winkingly ambitious” it is, but it kicks off with a lively trumpet/baritone setpiece and walks through a multinstrumental suite. It’s dense, but never too heavy, and the vocals are warm and well-placed.

Falsetto vocals begin over a halting trumpet-tuba-ukulele pattern before the whole thing swoons to strings. The song changes gears mid-way, passing through a brassy march and pizzicato strings en route to an understated finish. A neat track.

The Weight She Fell Under
A light, pushing drone and xylophone arpeggio pace this bright tribute to a woman seemingly sliced in half by a train.

The verdict: Very cool stuff. Their sound is complex without being overstuffed, ambitious without being pretentious. There will be a lot of pieces to pull together live, but I’d like to see how they’re going to do it.