The titular song of REENIE’s Parallel Place depicts the ultimate form of escapism: inventing an alternate mental world to change circumstances and hide from the anxious realities of regular existence. This is depicted on the cover of the album, also. Irena Perkovic sits on a couch with her guitar, but is surrounded by a distant mountain range, a roaring lion, and some cartoon balloons. While the notion of hiding from life could be sad, the song comes across more as sweet and whimsical with its charming melody and choir-sung bridge.
Perkovic is joined by musicians with credentials from Humber and U of T’s jazz programs, and their technical prowess and charismatic playing is evident in the sprinkling of horn solos throughout the album, as well as the constant jazz instrumentation. Perkovic herself has a degree in music composition from UVic, and a sophisticated approach to pop melody formation can be heard throughout.
Anxiety seems to be a thread that weaves the songs together. “Bother” depicts the meta-cognitive processes that fire when you start to experience anxiety. You’re worrying about the future, dissecting every possible thing that could go wrong. You know that you’re doing it, but you’re powerless to stop it. “On & Off” details the anxieties of being in a unsteady relationship and the damage that can do to self-esteem.
Though there is optimism, too. “No Lookin’ Back” declares that changing to fit into a relationship or a life path is not as effective a strategy as searching for the friendships, partners, and career that fit you naturally. And most importantly, once you find them, to give it your all.
Perkovic’s clear voice anchors the traditional instrumentation and pop arrangements with panache. The parallel universe that the songs create is sonically sweet and pleasant, even as the emotions of a lyrics cover a darker and broader pallet.
Rating: Young Hoot (Decent)
Top Tracks: “Parallel Place,” “No Lookin’ Back”