Album Reviews — April 4, 2016 at 10:00

POP-ROCK: Wide Awake by Parachute

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Parachute - Rooftop - 2016 - 1.6MB

Parachute performed at my university through a collaboration with Starbucks…at 9 in the morning. I got to listen to them perform through the walls of the building where I was working, and even muffled, Parachute sounded amazing. I rocked out to “Kiss Me Slowly” and “Words Meet Hearbeats” while typing away at my desk, wishing desperately that I could be outside, amongst the crowd, or amongst the horde of sleepy-eyed students walking to class, because they at least could hear the music unobscured. That’s why I’m so excited to be reviewing their newest album, Wide Awake, and I plan on seeing them in concert, here in St. Louis. The now-trio from Virginia will be starting their tour this month in support of their new album, though unfortunately, no Canadian dates have been announced. But in the meantime, listen to their album and memorize every word to every song, just so you’re prepared for an inevitable Canadian tour date.

Parachute has the uncanny ability to combine pop, rock, and indie sounds into fresh, emotional, and often-heartwrenching tunes. Most notably, the first single off Wide Awake, “Without You,” will make you want to grab a few boxes of tissues. The instrumentals are upbeat, belying the depth of the lyrics, which altogether create a catchy, summery song, perfect for an outdoor performance. As lead singer Will Anderson sings about not wanting to fall asleep without you, we see a subtle, playful reference to the title of the album. Other strong songs on the album include “What Side of Love,” which features pleasantly unexpected gospel undertones,  and “Lonely,” which is more upbeat and is what I would consider signature Parachute.

To be quite honest, there isn’t much fault that I can find with the individual songs on the album. On their own, each song has its own memorable quality. For example, “When You Move” features a female vocalist to contrast Nate McFarland’s voice,” and “Everything” heavily utilizes an orchestral, symphonic sound, uplifting the lyrics towards the sky. However, I do wish there was a bit more thematic depth within the album; Parachute has found its niche in writing music about love, but at a certain point, it gets a bit monotonous. I’d love to hear Parachute write and sing lyrics that are about anger. A song about something negative would be a lovely twist on their usual material, yet would still be sung with the heartachingly beautiful quality of McFarland’s voice. The band hedges this line with the song, “What Breaks My Heart,” but even then, it’s a bit too lovey-dovey. Don’t get me wrong, the song makes me weepy, I just want to hear something lyrically and thematically different from this extremely talented band.

On the whole, Wide Awake, is exactly what you would expect from Parachute: love songs, soulful vocals, and memorable melodies. If these things are up your alley, then this album is for you. But if you want to hear something that induces fist pumps, rather than tears, you will have to wait and see what Parachute will come up with next.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Vanguard Records

Must-Listen Tracks: “Without You,” “Lonely With Me,” “When You Move”

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You can purchase Wide Awake on iTunes or Amazon.

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