Album Review: The Parlour Suite – Welcome to the Garden Party EP

As The Parlour Suite, wife and husband duo Inga and Joel Roberts make warm, nostalgic pop. Their debut EP, Welcome to the Garden Party, brings to mind that other retro indie-pop duo She & Him. It’s an admittedly obvious comparison that will inevitably follow the Minneapolis duo for a while, but sometimes the shoe does, in fact, fit. Like Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, The Parlour Suite excels at vintage folk-pop that is catchy and instantly accessible.

“The Goldenhand” opens Welcome to the Garden Party with an upbeat love song that transports the listener to an idealized version of the past: a playful, sunny place where the AM radio never ceases to churn out pop gems. One of the duo’s major influences is The Mamas and the Papas, and this inspiration is most apparent on cheerfully luminous songs like “The Goldenhand” and “Up from Underground”. The Parlour Suite recaptures the haunting despondency of Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” on their straightforward but enjoyable cover of a cover.

The vocals of Joel Roberts surface on the EP’s title track and rockabilly closer, “Worth Your Weight in Gold”, and bring a touch of the blues to Welcome to the Garden Party. Although Ms. Roberts takes over singing duties at the end of “Worth Your Weight in Gold”, a duet between the two distinct but complimentary vocal stylings never happens. It’s unfortunate, because thanks in part to Inga Roberts’ charming, country twang-infused voice, The Parlour Suite is more than a mere throwback act. While the EP’s production is as clean as it is clear, it maintains a level of warmth found in the recordings of the past that often vanishes in the slick, digital production values of modern times.


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