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Parts & Labor – Constant Future

on March 11, 2011, 7:59am

Dan Friel and B.J. Warshaw have spent the past decade taking the idea of noise rock and making it relatable and anthemic while keeping it challenging. The idea of turning what most would consider to be useless feedback into actual music is a concept still for the sharpening, but their band, Parts & Labor, makes it look easier and easier with every passing album. They’ve turned seemingly useless sonic squeals into the driving force of its music, building hooks that last beyond the songs’ ends, all coming from the twist of a pallet of jerry-rigged effects knobs.

New York’s own experimentalists Parts & Labor have come a long way since its humble instrumental beginnings. Over the past seven albums, they’ve endured the classic struggles, having shuffled through band members, fought to keep the band going, and released solo albums in the downtime. And through all that, Parts & Labor has made it to see another album release and one that’s worth getting excited about at that. On this latest venture, Constant Future, the band continues to move past the noise-for-the-sake-of-noise punk rock of its past six albums and focuses, instead, on the songwriting, giving us its stamp on pop rock. What it translates to is a New Wave-inspired post-rock that ultimately wins.

With opener “Fake Names”, this latest effort continues where the band’s previous album, Receivers, left off. The songs have the same buildup patterns coupled with exciting, unrelenting compositions as heard on “Outnumbered”. Through the course of 12 tracks, the album moves the band forward in its stylistic niche, doing well to blend the band’s past and present. Yes, that present is more accessible, but that in no way means watered down. Quite the contrary, in fact, as the double bass drum pound on “Bright White” proves.

What’s different is that the thought process for the tracks is skewed towards the structure and what is possible when you alter the punk rock to just rock. “Rest” takes quite the modern rock approach, simplifying the drums and leading with harmonies and squealing guitar hooks. The electronics sparkle on “Skin and Bones” and blend into the guitars as they step down on “Echo Chamber”. “Constant Future” keeps a level head as it drives to its point, staying steady, mostly leaving the bleeps behind for a basic, hard-hitting sound. All these shifts are worked in gracefully, making them comfortable and at home with the rest of the band’s work as a whole.

Constant Future, start to finish, is as flawless as a Parts & Labor album can get, giving what was expected and then some. The level of consistency this band has had since 2007’s Mapmaker doesn’t wane in the presence of what’s new. Consistency is not their enemy nor has it ever been, because every track here works hard to stand out while at the same time stand together to make a concrete album. Quality from end to end is a rarity for any band, and Parts & Labor have pulled it off.