PARRALOX – Metropolis

Singing The Body Electric

Prolific Australian duo Parralox return with Metropolis, their third album in as many years. Since their 2008 debut album Electricity, Parralox have been building a worldwide reputation for quality synth-pop. John Von Ahlen, the creative mastermind behind the band, grew up listening to and loving the genre. Electricity was a homage to his electro forefathers; with clear nods to The Human League and Yazoo among others, it was a hit with synth fans everywhere.

The second album State Of Decay saw Amii Jackson taking over lead vocals, and the duo began to move away from the obvious influences of the debut release, choosing instead to hone their own distinctive style. The result was a more pop-oriented sound, whilst retaining a broad electro appeal.

Metropolis sees Parralox edging further towards pure pop with some enjoyable results. First single ‘Supermagic’ is an unashamedly catchy; with its Divine intervention and singalong chorus it is the finest song that Kylie never recorded! Amii is a self-confessed fan of Misses Minogue and Ciccone, and carries off the diva role with flair.

Forthcoming single ‘I Sing The Body Electric’ showcases Parralox’s new direction. In the band’s exclusive interview with The Electricity Club earlier this year, John Von Ahlen describes it as a “pop electronic dance record”. It’s also the Parralox song of which John is most proud; quite an accolade when you consider the many gems in their back catalogue. The result sounds like Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’ meets Madonna’s ‘Jump’; a hybrid that works surprisingly well and stands out as an album highlight.

‘Miss You’ is another accomplished pop song, and one which is already well known to the Australian audience. The original track was featured on Aussie Big Brother with lead vocals by John Von Ahlen, recording under the pseudonym Mr Jones. Amii replaces John on vocals for this 2010 version.

Parralox have a broad appeal which spreads beyond the electro community. As John and Amii revealed, they have built up a devoted gay following which they are keen to nurture. HI-NRG album tracks like ‘Promised Land’ and ‘Love Is Enough’, sparkling with slick production and catchy hooks, might just become the gay anthems to which they aspire.

While Metropolis has its eyes set firmly on the dancefloor, there are a few songs that break the mould. The tempo slows down for ‘Acrimony’ and ‘New Light’, both stripped-down tracks featuring John’s vocal. With their stark soundscapes and detached vocal delivery, both are evocative of The Human League’s Reproduction era.

Pic by John von Ahlen

Parralox have also flirted with the ‘dark side’ and went down a storm with the largely electro-goth crowd at Infest earlier this year. They astutely keep this audience on board with remixes by the likes of Mesh and Assemblage 23, available exclusively on the limited edition CD.

Finally, no review of a Parralox release would be complete without a special mention for the artwork and photography, which as ever is lovingly crafted by John Von Ahlen himself. The result is characteristically stylish, and for those who still cherish their music in the physical format it is worth spending the extra for.

Parralox are back, and whether you are a pop fan or goth; gay or straight; it’s hard to resist their charms.

Metropolis is released on 26th November 2010 by Conzoom Records.

Steve Gray
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