The Parlotones - Stardust Galaxies

2009-11-17 10:53
The Parlotones
None of it could have happened without power ballads. The first time you heard “Beautiful”, before you had even heard of The Parlotones, you must have felt it: Kahn Morbee’s voice has drama in spades. Fast forward to “Push Me To The Floor”, the opening track of Stardust Galaxies, and he’s still at it. Morbee’s quivering, velvety vox breaks the song wide open, spilling emo guts all over some poor girl out there who’s “worth is worth nothing when it’s at someone else’s cost”.

Wouldn’t it be terrible if your greatest  strength became your greatest weakness, if your best songs became some kind of formula... oh, wait. To be fair, Stardust Galaxies doesn’t have too many flea-ridden stowaways aboard, but it’s a shame we have to put up with songs like “It’s Only Science”, when we’re really holding out for another “Fly To The Moon”. The former is straight out of the Parlotones cookbook and rambles on about squirrels and “comforting the breeze”, while the latter is an original pop song with something to say.

The usual heart-breaker themes apply, but interestingly, we see a chart-minded band grappling with the South African experience. It might not make sense to those coveted audiences in London and New York, but Morbee returns again and again to the fears and dreams of suburban Jozi. Whether or not every whitey in the country is an Australian waiting to happen, “Brighter Side Of Hell” sums it up best: “We’re trying our best to run away, the truth is we really love it here”. Fear, commingled with desire, wrapped up in a nice, big identity crisis. There’s more, namely a nod to Long Walk To Freedom in “Should We Fight Back?”, and further gritty realities of local living in “Welcome To The Weekend”.

 The Parlotones are not, will never be any kind of vehicle for political awakening. As brave as it is for taking bolder themes to the frivolous airwaves, Stardust Galaxies is really a just a pop album, a scrapbook of melodies. You’ll find much more eloquent social commentary in newspaper columns, but then you won’t find as good an ear as Kahn Morbee’s down at The Putsonderwater Post, will you?

That ear was put to work on the title track, “Stardust Galaxies” a collaboration with Freshlyground’s Zolani Mahola. Taking the “power” out of the “power ballad” for a change, the track leaves just enough room for Mahola’s honeyed vocals and Morbee’s drama-rama to really come together. It’s by far the best work on the album and certainly one of the best collaborations of the year.

We really need to let these songs speak for themselves. Some of them will whimper and be forgotten, while others will bellow their credentials from your radio speakers and continue to do so for some time. Whatever we think of Stardust Galaxies as a whole, it has enough superpowered ballads and catchy tunes to woo the fast-growing Parlotones faithful, one song at a time.

Having reached gold status inside of a week, Stardust Galaxies is clearly something South Africa has been waiting for. Why is that? Why are The Parlotones now officially South Africa’s hottest, biggest-selling rock band?

Bra G 2009/11/16 05:47
A Fact- 10,000 fans packed out The Dome this past week end to listen to The Parlotones. Not many groups can claim this on their biog's. A fantastic achievement. Well Done. They are achieving enormous success here and overseas, so they doing something right. I am proud of the boys and what they are doing for South Africa as artists and ambassadors. May the continue to shine in every galaxy. Peace, Bra G.
brendonhunter 2009/11/16 16:17
Parlotones ROCK!!!
Steve (Cape Town) 2009/11/17 04:38
Grand West rocked on Friday!! What a stage presence these guys have. Awesome to witness such true SA talent. (Last saw them 2 years ago at Kirstenbosch in the pouring rain! Another very special show). Very proud of them and hope they continue to go from strength to strength.
Trace 2009/11/17 06:50
I was at the JHB concert at the Dome on Saturday night...and all I can say is WOW! What amazing talent!!!!
rock fan 2009/11/17 08:15
u can hardly call them a rock band, maybe like soft porn they are at best soft rock or pop rock for real they a pop band. no way a rock band!
A 2009/11/17 08:33
This is a pop band not rock. Needless to say they are a talent and great at what they do.
Martin 2009/11/17 08:54
Why on earth did they perform poker face? Totaly sucked on Saturday...
Roo 2009/11/17 09:10
They are neither rock nor pop. They are in fact Indie. May I suggest giving their obvious influences of the great Manchester bands such as The Smiths and James a good listen?!
Johny 2009/11/17 09:11
Well I suppose many people like them , I just don't like their music. I think some people over-rate them just becuase they are south African
XXX 2009/11/17 09:46
Can't really make out if you like them or not, and what the hell has politics got to do with it. Have they ever been assosiated with anything positive/briliant/good. Not everybody has got the same taste, and I think Parlotones are brilliant and unique, whatever they are doing is working for them. Hard work and dedication pays off, well done boys, and congrats on your new album, I think its great and can't wait for the next. And your shows as always top class performance and entertaining.
Kobus 2009/11/17 10:19
Calling them a rock band is like calling a bicycle track a highway. The average person will love them, which is why average is average.
Tracey - Cape Town 2009/11/17 11:01
They were FANTASTIC. Saw them at the Grand Arena on Friday. These boys are going places. True entertainers and amazing performers. ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Not many local bands can put together a show of 2 1/2 hours of their OWN, ORIGINAL music. I would've paid 10 times what I paid for my ticket. Yep - they were THAT good.
plan9 2009/11/17 11:05
they are so generic, every song can be traced back to some existing brit pop/emo song. but hey, that's the south african music formula (with a few rare exeptions)
Blanche 2009/11/17 11:13
I was at the Cape Town show on friday and WOW, they are amazing. They put on a fantastic show. Pity they couldnt film for the dvd in Cape Town too. I cant wait to get paid to go out and buy the new cd.
Quanita 2009/11/17 12:57
Best ever!
Maggie 2009/11/17 13:38
I think we can be so proud of Parlotones and the quality of their music and live shows. Their Cape Town gig was amazing!
Maria 2009/11/17 14:32
What an AWESUM SHOW!! I`ve been to so many and this one was by far thee best!! The guys deserve every bit of success and I think they`re so awesum for remaining grounded! Cant wait to catch their next concert!
Sean 2009/11/17 16:18
I strongly object to the use of the word "rock" in this nothing sacred any more!
galamatias 2009/11/18 08:51
Overexposed! In the last few years The Parlotones have become SA's own U2 - not in sonwriting excellence but in their smug ubiquitousness and self-importance; when they sin "I'll Be There" it sounds more like a threat than a promise. This song is forever, indeed...It's such a pity that their new album sounds mostly like outtakes from The Killers Day & Age: Cool 80s pop songs that want to be The Cars when they grow up. And their are moments of embarrasment - the chilling power ballads could be kitsch fun if Kahn wasn't stretching for authenticity. And should we fight back is twenty years too late with it's history textbook sentiments. Urgh!Worst of all is the calculated commercial appeal - see the contrived title track which screams 94.7 hit. Colourful they may be, but original they ain't. Think I'll stick to Koos Kombuis, Black Hotels, Dear Reader and Blk Jcks for now.
Line 2009/11/18 09:25
Rock versus Pop. It's a difficult one. While I understand using "Are they trying to hit the charts with this?" as a divider, it leads to really inconsistent results? What are Kings of Leon? They started out as a rock band, for sure, but now it's not so clear... Let's just call The Parlotones pop rock and have done with it. After all, they still are a BAND...
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