by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
When the Tree Bears Fruit is the very impressive debut full length from Australian quartet Parsnip who combine eccentricity and a wide-eyed innocence with agitating and crashing garage pop. The quartet prove themselves quite adept at ramshackle melodies indebted to the late 60’s psych scene via early Flying Nun bands and an abundance of folksy whimsy. Parsnip do not steer away from the oddities in life with their music and instead embrace the energy found in new experiences and a genuine sense of curiosity. Throughout this record there is a chaos laying underneath everything, which provides many fruitful avenues for the band to travel and a blank slate for Parsnip to play around with and create freely.
Parsnip hit extremely high marks when they let their playfulness come unabashedly to the fore especially noticeable in songs like “For a Ride” “Sprouts” and “Lullaby”. The former is propelled by a persistent keyboard melody that grounds elastic and bouncy bass interweaving with wah-wah pedaled guitar that adds another layer of jauntiness. Paris Richens’ vocals add a bit of whimsical twinge to the sprawling instrumentation which is aided by the cascading backing vocals of her bandmates before closing with a sprightly change of pace. “Sprouts” has a bit of a Chills-ian make up to it, with its bright garage psych-pop melody intermingled with little burst of cloudy and ominous keyboard driven instrumental breaks, a bit of twanging, and an appropriately tidy guitar thrown in as well.
“Too Late” really highlights the band’s pension for cheerful and bright melodies belied with a bit of slightly downtrodden tales of past disappointments or regrets which hit all the harder due to the contrasts. Richens and company manage to mix varying vocal approaches amongst each other to create a bit of a raucous swirling affect to the vocals which highlight lyrics like “How I envy/every spore and every seed/every dewdrop bead/every star and every reed/Just swinging in the breeze/what a life to tease/and take the mickey out of me.” “My Window” continues to hit home with contrasting emotional experiences between the instrumentation and lyrics, with chiming keyboard echoed with bright guitar masking the less chipper tale at the core of the song. For a band to be so adept at melding opposites is quite remarkable and easy to overlook, however it’s really an achievement that adds character and weight to everything.
When the Tree Bears Fruit presents a band that is willing to subvert expectations and appearances in their music in a manner that is simply astonishing. There is a depth to everything involved here that is precise despite carrying an air of whimsy that is embedded in everything the band throws at you. This record is a wild ride and one that provides a surprise around every corner, Parsnip have honed their craft superbly, shown in the varying tempos and atmosphere in every track. This is one of the finer garage and psych releases for a good bit of time and there’s really not a moment that disappoints, it’s really a record that needs to be heard to understand the joys and complexities inside of it. Australia has continued to provide a lot of exciting and under-appreciated music for a long time now and hopefully Parsnip and this record will get the recognition it deserves.