Parts & Labor – Constant Future

Parts & Labor - Constant Future

Parts & Labor are always coming out with something raw, emotional, and cathartic. If you go all the way back to 2006 with Stay Afraid, or 2003’s Groundswell, the same supercharged feeling encompasses’ every record. On March 8th they released Constant Future, their fourth full length with Jagjaguwar. Track one is called “Fake Names”. It open with a happiness like that of a snowy morning when everything seems right in your life. A slow building of tom fills by drummer Joe Wong pushes us along with the distant sound of whirling instrumentation that matches and elevates as the drums do the same.

As uplifting as even the most stripped down Arcade Fire song, we move to track two, “Outnumbered”. There is no slowing down as dreamy electronics start us out. Not a moment later the track picks up quickly with vocalist/guitarist Dan Friel calling out, “so outnumbered, beleaguered caught unaware”. A dense, low end brings the listener down to Dan’s level of being overcrowded. The track ends abruptly with a scream like no other from Mr. Friel as the songs literally grinds to a shocking halt. “Constant Future” is the title track from the album coming in at number three. So far the most danceable and the heaviest thus far, minus the intro to track one. “Constant Future” has a Gospel Choir quality to it is the chorus, with a truly space-aged feel behind the entire track. All too ironic is this outer space typed sound incorporated within’ a track that says goodbye to the future, only to seemingly welcome it with the backing track.

On track four, “A Thousand Roads” we’re met with some of the most uplifting sounds ever placed within a four minute span. Although uplifting, lyrically we’re not met with anything more than spite. “Bathe in overflowing drains as the dried up blades piss on your parade”. Friel follows with what can be nothing more than a tale of two people meeting on a sexual plane rather than an intellectual one. “Out torsos sweating more so than our minds. Has it always been the blind leading the blind or bleeding the blind”. Wow, a broken heart with the likelihood of someone’s inability to take ownership for their actions?

“Rest” is track five and it begins as anything but the feeling of relaxation. A cool, smooth vibe is there though with a crunch that makes your eyes squint. Another tale of a couple possibly biding their time while the “spinning clocks have come to rest and done their best to throw us, we’re still hanging on with both our hands”. A better outcome perhaps than with “A Thousand Roads”. So we see there may be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. This album just keeps moving even if track six is a little slower than what we’ve heard so far. With “Pure Annihilation” we’re met with the same irony as “Rest”. As far as Parts & Labor goes, the matching of the feel of the song with the title is something they ignore, and good for them. Lets get the rug pulled out from underneath our feet, it keeps the blood flowing, and makes this CD that much more interesting. The best way to understand the pairing of title and feel is to read the lyrics after you listen to the song. It’ll really shed a whole new light into the tracks. This holds true especially with “Pure Annihilation”.

Parts & Labor - three brilliant boys

“Skin And Bones” carries with it an almost Devo-esq, robotic feel throughout. Keeping things consistent is that ever present heaviness that draws you in. The latter being among the many things that make Parts & Labor as well as Constant Future as a whole so breathtakingly magnificent. What almost sounds like a distorted cello mixed with Wendy Carlos’ Switched On Bach LP we have track eight, “Echo Chamber”. The song relates very much to that of someone screaming inside of a hollow room, only to be met with their own voice reverberating back. An empty city, “people running, breaking our necks squinting skyward, beaten, borrowed, begged and bartered”. It’s as if the our homes have sucked us dry, and every sense we had of ourselves has been stolen or lost.

Like a heartbeat, pounding out our life’s blood “Without A Seed” is track nine. The second shortest shortest song on the album yet perhaps the most poignant. “Crawling through the garden, creeping through the greenery foraging forgotten flowers. Nothing grown without a seed”. Mid-way through the the song reaches a blazing crescendo that forces this message upon us, only to drop back down in the quietness of a whisper. We’re left with the last words to send us off, “nothing grows without a seed”. We’ve been told, now it’s up to us. A fade in bring us to track ten, “Bright White”. An overall poppy, Faint influenced cut from the record is all over this track. Near the end an explosive Eddie Van Halen style electronic, charging rhythm pounds at our eardrums.

Distortion, as well as a pulsing  hi-hat open “Hurricane”. With a slow, bouncy introduction vocalist Dan Friel brings us down once again with a bit of self-realisation. “I use to be a hurricane but now I’m just a breeze”. The track blows away any feelings of regret with a meaty guitar line that seems like it cam straight from the In Utero mixing board.  Rounding out this album is track twelve, “Neverchanger”.

By the time you reach the last song on the album you’re figuring there’s no way a band could come up with a perfectly sequenced album that is flawless. Well think again. Nothing short of a miracle we have twelve tracks that feature no filler. Each and every second  of this 39min opus is pure beauty, mixed with aggression, rage, loss, heartbreak, and regret. Some of the most relatable human emotions in the world. With Constant Future , Parts & Labor have given us a monumental record. One that you can play over and over again and it will never grow stale. That is a wonderful accomplishment in a time of such swill.

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