Join us for STRFKR with special guests Holy Wave & Ruth Radelet
In a journey that’s been taking new directions since it started, every step of the way has led STRFKR to Parallel Realms. The band’s energetic, danceable pop has assumed many forms since they first emerged in 2007, always reliably delivering unshakeable melodies and larger-than-life anthems infused with intellectually challenging lyrics. In recent years, STRFKR explored more experimental waters when they constructed a fuzzy dream world with their home-recorded 2020 album Future Past Life or subtracted structure entirely from fully instrumental collection Ambient 1. New album Parallel Realms finds yet another path, redefining the kind of direct, high-impact songwriting that’s long been the core of the band’s strongest material. Streamlined and immediate, the album distills STRFKR’s 15 plus years of artistic growth without forfeiting any of the perspective they’ve gained along the way. It’s their clearest, most organized, and most exciting work yet.
As with many other albums, Parallel Realms started with sorting through a mountain of ideas looking for inspiration. While combing through stacks of partially-realized demos, it became clear that the most interesting songs all had a consistent playfulness to them. A through-line of upbeat fun gradually came into view, with a joyous vibe that sometimes bordered on ‘80s synth pop euphoria. STRFKR followed this impulse, digging back through their archives for songs that hadn’t made sense until now, but matched the specific uplifting feeling that was becoming the connective tissue for the new album.
Subconscious lyrical patterns started arising, as well, repeatedly circling back to the idea of how different people can experience the same thing from wildly different emotional vantage points. This kind of parallel intake served as the inspiration for many of the songs, and ultimately the title of the album. Songs gelled around this concept quickly. Relentlessly hooky, “Together Forever” uses its rubbery bass line and melodic instrumentation to express different sides of the frustration and satisfaction of love. Dark-yet-bubbly single “Armatron” evolves from tension to tenderness, mirroring a heated lover’s argument that settles into softness when tempers cool. This is reflected in how the song’s sassiness transitions into a more introspective feel in its second half, and is one of many moments on the album that STRFKR arrived at through heightened collaboration, not just between the band members, but with valuable input from network of trusted friends and advisors. For a band used to getting into the weeds with their highly controlled writing process, everything fell into place almost a little too effortlessly. At some point, though, they made a conscious decision to step out of their own way, not overcomplicate things, and just let the album come together around this new, singular energy.
More than anything STRFKR has made before, Parallel Realms carries a triumphant sense of renewal. Though never implicitly stated, the elevated sound, straightforward songwriting, and especially unclouded vision of the album all convey the feeling of breaking through to new possibilities.
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