The Parlour Suite: The music's darker now, a little more sexy

The Parlour Suite: The music's darker now, a little more sexy
Photo by Philip Johnson

The Parlour Suite is a little different from the last time we heard them. Now with drummer Josh Caro, the group that began as a husband and wife duo of Inga and Joel Roberts teamed up with producer Grant Cutler (Wolf Lords) to bring out a darker side of the band. If their last album, Everyone's Looking, is the good twin, then the new album, Pressure, plays the evil one. Pressure is only a three-song EP, but it delivers some of the best synth-pop we've heard all year.

Gimme Noise spoke with the band before the album release at Icehouse on Saturday evening about working with Grant and how fast music can change in a few years.

The band slowly piled their influences into Pressure. For Josh, whose first show was the Parlour Suite's album release for Everyone's Looking, that included electronics and learning how to make the sounds, bringing in flavors of Radiohead.

Caro shares, "[Radiohead] was always a huge inspiration for me, and I've always wanted to drop that into the band. As I slowly gained a bigger presence in the group, I was able to bring that in... you have to keep up with what's happening. You don't want to be the dinosaur that's looking up at the fire thinking, 'Ah, the world's ending!' Yes, you got left behind; you didn't want to change."

Another reason for the change in sound came in the form of Grant Cutler. During a practice session at Inga and Joel's home, which is a basically a cabin in Wayzata surrounded by trees, the producer came and listened while the three played some new pieces.

"He didn't really say anything, just sat back. [laughs] I've known him for 12 years, so I see the influence on what he's doing, and I wanted him to apply that to us," Joel says. "'What would you do to incorporate and change the sound?' He helped us do that." Inga adds, "A lot of what he did was bringing things up or down, add manipulation, and rhythms. It's nice to have an extra person be there ask, 'Are we really portraying what we're trying to say?' He takes the elements and shows us how to get there. When you write, you get tunnel vision."

Joel and Inga trade off vocals and leads on the new album, something that shifted over the years from harmonies and blending their voices. While there were no set rules, the two decided that whoever wrote the melody, sang the piece. Most people wouldn't be able to work so well with their significant other, but Joel and Inga make it look easy, being up-front and honest about any issues they may run into in the music realm. Joel says, "I'm brutally outspoken, so it works out well because we work through things immediately."

That mentality helped when it came time to record. Caro says, "That time is spent in a 'dome.' We didn't necessarily sit down and think of things with a hidden agenda. It's mainly just us sitting in the same room. Maybe in a subterranean way, that made a way into our artistic space."

Inga admits that the new album is representative of the band currently. She says, "The Parlour Suite has taken on a lot of faces, but we would have done what we wanted anyways. It's always been something, hopefully, but it's a little darker now, a little more grown up and sexy. It's like in life where you don't have any major landmarks to show where you've been; you're suddenly just there."

The Parlour Suite will release Pressure at Icehouse with Communist Daughter on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
21+, $8, 11 pm
Purchase tickets here.

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