Parka - Attack of the Hundred Yard Hardman
I like this album. Lots. But it’s hard to define or put into a genre as Parka’s sound keeps evolving from the first track to the last. It’s like 2 different albums with a couple of punk tracks in the middle. None of this is negative at all – just confusing to explain!
The first 4 tracks have an indie dance sound, like a lot of the indie that’s out at the moment, but Parka does them pretty well. "Bosses and Bastards" and "Disco Dancer" are crazy party tracks with what’s often called ‘driven’ guitars - just really fast energetic chords that don’t stop and keep your pulse racing. Vocals sound like something from Jet and even a bit of Pelle Almqvist from the Hives. The energy is there. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Parka its that their music never drops in pace or passion. Every track is injected with irrepressible youthful energy and lust for life. Even when the tempo drops with "Stay Away," the energy stays up: with string section and a crashing emotive melody, this song manages to lean towards great as opposed to cheesy. Reminds me a lot of Oasis, but with trumpets...
These boys love their trumpets: and so do I (!). Every track is brought up a notch by combining brass with good old indie rock guitars. It’s a relatively unusual idea (outside American ska) but I like it. I can see the trumpet being the next ‘in vogue’ instrument kids want to pick up and learn. On tracks such as lyric driven “There’s a Riot Going On” - the trumpet solo has even replaced the traditional guitar solo! Soulful yet bouncy stand-out track: “Wake Up Call” has a fantastically amusing brass only outro. A definite album highlight, this song has some cute sing-a-long melodies and great lyrics about facing problems.
Then Parka hits you with Flogging Molly-esque drink-a-long tune “I Don’t Want to Fight you Tonight”. It reminds me of Rancid, complete with excellently executed Tim Armstrong styled vocals. If this isn’t good enough, the lyrics are the sweetest contrast with the music "I can’t run and you can't hide from problems that we have inside: I don’t want to fight you tonight!".
The rest of the tracks demonstrate that unrelenting surge of energy and irresistible infectious joy that Parka seem to create. First single “Better Anyway” is excellent, but then there’s sing-a-long “Hoxton Hair” and oh so catchy “If You Wanna?” I challenge you to listen to any of these songs without smiling or wanting to dance.
On a final note, the Parka boys have a deliciously different modern perspective on youth culture. Their lyrics urge you to go out and dance and have FUN, as opposed to promoting drugs and sex and all that, as is the general norm. “Mr Optimistic” (after the fantastic trumpet and rock guitar opening) has some classy lyrics "drink smoke fuck that’s all you do. I never want to be like you" and final track “You’re No Geezer (But You Try)” is a cheeky little number that rips it out of a drug taking womanizer. I don’t want to get all intense – but I find this stuff so damn refreshing! Why can’t us kids go out and just have FUN these days? Well done Parka.