Navigating that second album hurdle can often prove to be one of the most challenging tasks for an artist. That sentiment was surely amplified for the trailblazing Australian disco gang Parcels after their 2018 self-titled debut, which took them across the globe and even saw them work alongside Daft Punk. It wasn’t hard to see why that record generated a tidal wave of excitement, either: their elegantly-executed disco was bursting with the tools and confidence needed to hit such instant heights.
Parcels have sought to escape any such pressure this time around. Speaking to NME recently, the band said that they needed “stillness and silence” in order to face up to the expectations set by their imaginative debut. By throwing themselves deep into a concept – drilling down on the juxtaposition of day and night, and how such a cyclical nature comes to define our very existence – Parcels have gone all in to produce a sprawling and inventive double album.
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There are sonic worlds to be explored within each of ‘Day/Night”s 19 tracks. Opener ‘Light’ signposts this ambition by opening with a sparse meditative synth glow, before the song gradually wakes from its tranquil state to branch into shimmering jazz territory. Flowing straight into the spritely uplifting keys of ‘Free’, it quickly becomes apparent that Parcels are letting their musicianship shine with a more instant live feel.
The bond between the five-piece is evident throughout, with the tracks coasting from one to the next without losing sight of enjoyment and adventure. They’re unafraid to jump into the unknown, either. Crackling with ambient street noise, the orchestral ‘Inthecity’ comes as one of many thought-provoking moments for reflection.
There are shades of the immaculate disco jangle that won so many hearts on their debut as well. ‘Somethinggreater’ is a reclined and understated ‘70s anthem with a Chic guitar line and a bouncy bassline – they’ve come too far to completely cut loose from such a winning formula. Listeners who come for that liberating disco sound will undoubtedly stay for the reclined Thundercat-esque jazz that follows-up on ‘Daywalk’.
‘Shadow’ signals the transition from day to night as an operatic vocal beams down: “Lights out / Sun down.” The second half of ‘Day/Night’ feels darker and moodier, such as the glamorous piano-led ballad ‘Neverloved’, while the band start to dig deep into further opposing topics, like identity against anonymity and belonging against freedom. They never stray too far from their vintage stylings, though: ‘Famous’ comes with bags of disco flair to post a glitzy, neon-lit late-night cameo.
True to its core concept, the album is cyclical as the sweeping strings of closer ‘Inside’ roll back into the first track as soon as it’s over. It means you can jump in and out of Parcels’ vivid world any time you want – but you’re guaranteed to want to come back for more. This daring album sets yet another high bar for this band, and leaves us itching to find out where they’ll go next.
Release date: November 5
Record label: Because Music