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Larkin Grimm Parplar Review – Brainwashed Magazine

Reviews  Larkin Grimm, Parplar

Brainwashed | Friday, 09 January 2009

Written by John Kealy

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Some CDs beg to be played over and over again. This is one of those times when the disc absolutely refuses to go back into its case and demands to go back in the player. Normally I cannot listen to an album more than once a day but Larkin Grimm’s third album makes for a rare exception. It is perfectly performed and the recording itself is flawless, this is one of those rare albums that impresses from every conceivable angle.

Young God Records

Grimm’s music is as oddball (in a good way) as her description on the Young God Records website makes her out to be (brought up in a cult, tales of the Alaskan wastes, a shamaness and a vagabond lifestyle either make for a very interesting person or a highly contrived back story; Grimm seems genuine). There are no pretensions of weirdness here, just the feeling that she knows her own path but it does not necessarily cross with the main road. Label mates Fire On Fire play on the album, as do members of the Angels of Light, which makes for a familiar mood from the offset but that is not to say that Grimm’s music is overpowered by the distinctive styles of the many players here. Her personality and quirks shine through undiminished.

For an album full of energy and life, the opening song “They Were Wrong” paints a very different picture. It is a quiet and chilling song, Grimm intones “Who said to you you’re going to be all right/Well they were wrong, wrong, wrong/In my mind you’re already gone.” With this as my first exposure to Parplar, I was expecting a soul-wrenching descent into deeper and darker places.

Yet almost immediately after “Ride That Cyclone” brings the album around full circle in mood (although lyrically it is still dark) and style. The lurching rhythm is like one of Michael Gira’s (who produces the album) but like a cyclone the music spins around the listener in a dizzying and breathtaking manner. Elsewhere on Parplar, cartoonish vocals and distinctly off-kilter lyrics make for a strange listening experience; songs like “Dominican Rum” and “Mina Minou” add a surreal vibe to the album and make Grimm’s musical persona as interesting as her biography sheet.

As refreshing as the odder moments on this album are, thankfully Grimm balances the weirdness with some exceptionally strong songs in a more “serious” style. “Anger in Your Liver” and “All the Pleasures” are a pair of brief but enjoyable songs in the middle of the album that show Grimm in a more traditional songwriting light. Both songs make it evident that Grimm does not have to hide behind some absurd mask, she has enough talent to let the songs speak for themselves when she wants them to.

It is hard to find any fault with Parplar. Granted, the freak folk scene has been flogged to death and whose corpse has been dragged through the streets in a macabre mockery of itself but like any style, there is always going to be someone who can pull something of worth from something that seems exhausted. Grimm fits this bill and I urge anyone with even a passing interest in good, honest music to go out and buy this.

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