Behind every mouse click on unknown music lies the chance of an awesome discovery. It’s a naive premise, I know, but every now and then a new sound from my speakers really makes my heart jump. That was the case when I came across Malaise, the new (digital) album from Parallel Bars. This is the moniker under which Neil Evans – with the help of friends – has been writing and releasing music for the past 10 years, after his old band Lunatic Dreyfus sort of stopped playing (both the new and old band name refer to The Pink Panther Strikes Again, yet the most recent cover photo shows another pink animal). The track I Need This offers an autobiographical look at the past: “I can’t sing, barely play guitar // That doesn’t stop me from pretending in the car // I had a band, but then we kinda stopped // Tried solo but that really flopped.”
Reason enough to ask Neil what he wants to achieve with his songs: “I have zero expectations for anything with Parallel Bars. It’s about having fun, creative expression, and the process of songwriting through collaboration.” As far as I’m concerned, that mission has been accomplished. Malaise has been a pretty personal project over the past year or so: “Writing original music was partly a distraction from the world, partly a coping mechanism.” The tunes kind of remind me of Urban Dance Squad, Nada Surf, OPM, and other bands that combined rock and rap-like vocals 20-30 years ago, but with a sauce of emo, punk, and ska. Neil himself admits to being influenced by basically anything with great melody, lyrics, energy, and riffs, like New Found Glory, Zebrahead, 311, The Appreciation Post, Run The Jewels, The Hold Steady, Twenty-One Pilots, and Beach Boys. Anyway, stream the full album below, and try not to think of a pink elephant.
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Update: In January 2022, Parallel Bars released More Malaise, an enhanced version of the album mentioned above.