Anchorage, Alaska’s, Parker Longbough return with the full-length new release, Left On Tri. The songs were written around the same time as their sophomore album, Bridges To Nowhere, with songwriter and bandleader Matthew Witthoeft at the helm. The album is centered around living in a cabin in the woods, with Witthoeft telling various true stories and reflecting on his time in college. No time is wasted with “RNC 2000” being a fabulous opener with a vibe that just won’t quit, and Witthoeft sharing some colossal lyrics about a day at university. It’s based on him forgetting to read up the night before.
There’s no mistaking the pop inclinations, but the party atmosphere is what drives the opener along with some classroom antics going on in the background. The melodies are so fantastic they sound effortlessly composed and recorded. The tempo changes up on “Jack Ryan” and a lot of names get thrown around on this lyrically relevant track that asks Tom Clancy the complex question, “where do we go from here?” You get mentions of everything from Near Beer to the 911 disaster on this cleverly crafted tune. It goes to show where heads were at when crafting this material before the album is completely underway.
Parker Longbough starts to come on lyrically stronger on “The Catcher,” a song about the shortcomings of millennials taking meds and playing video games, to explain the subjects it exemplifies with some of the most brutal lyrics on the album. The signing is very melancholy, as it is more so than not on the entire album, but this is where you feel his emotions the most, as the lyrics speak major volumes for the song itself. It bodes well with the title track as it cuts right into “A Left On Tri” but it doesn’t mean you can’t make up your own meanings to relate to the songs. It’s just all very personal sounding either way, especially on this one.
“Infinite Zinn” kicks off the second half with quite a bang on a track you wouldn’t expect at this point on the album, but it comes as a great addition once it flies by and you’re hitting the repeat button for more of this sensational song with everything deserving of its inclusion. The pop stands up and rocks as it swings through this lo-tech driven sleeper which could be the best song on the album. It contends with all the best writing and playing on these eclectic songs. And it’s complemented by the less energetic “Sophia Loren Look-Alike (Acoustic)” with its melodramatic fantasy date feel.
“Secret Santa” is another fine track to showcase the magical songwriting skills of Matthew Witthoeft in all its glory. This is a song worth waiting for but its also well placed in the track list that way, as it leaves room for more music to sink your ears into. Without question, the lyrics, music, and vocals all meet here with equal excellence. And the rest is gravy with the jubilant “Lent 2006” and the surprisingly low key “Pizza Party” on an album that is a must hear from Parker Longbough.
-review by Jeff Turner