Like a lot of Brits I first came across The Parson Heads via the wonderful Twelve String High compilation earlier in the year. It’s Hard For Me To Say, a glorious slice of gentle Americana with a delicate melody and divine middle section was one of the many standouts.
Since then I have explored their back catalogue on Spotify, snapped up the vinyl of their greatest hits In A Hazy Dream and inflicted, in the nicest possible way, Punctual As Usual on anyone who’d listen.
Somehow though the Portland (got to get there one day) band’s 2017 album Blurred Harmony slipped by me. Maybe the summer holidays got in the way or possibly the endless playing of the Sergeant Pepper reissue. Nevertheless a few months on and the CD is now a staple in this parish, and Blurred Harmony is odds on to win my jangle pop album of the year.
If you have never heard them imagine that at some point in 1968 The Byrds had passed on the Gram Parsons option and enlisted Rich Wright and Dave Gilmour from the Syd-less Floyd. Sure they jangle away like the best of them, but there’s an atmosphere, an airiness, an expansiveness that is almost unique. Opener Hazy Dream does a much better job introducing their sounds than my words. A spacey intro gives way to gently guitar jangle and a gorgeous brittle melody. Then rather than return to the rather wonderful chorus it sneaks out to an unexpected and unusual outro. Clever stuff.
Coming Down and Time After Time take the energy levels up a notch or two – think The Church in their early 80s pomp – before once again the Gilmoury guitar sidles in and takes over on the Meddle influenced Answers Twice.
The rest of the album slowly sucks you in, but the part that I find most addictive is the finale. Track nine Today’s The Day is sublime – a lullaby that boasts the PRH’s trademark uplifting chorus. It then segues into the Beatley psych Waiting For The Call – in fact the whole of this side of the album has song cycle feel – which then becomes the anthemic, well for Parsons Read Heads, Out Of Range.
I will admit to not being too much of an authority as I haven’t yet fully explored their back catalogue, but if this isn’t their best album it is certainly up there. Gentle, straightforward tunes that reveals something new on each listen. Play it five times and if you love the Byrds psych or Americana (with a bit of a twist) then I am sure you will be smitten.
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