Review: Parker Lee - No Good Mornings EP

 Cover art by Jowan Mead and Ilana Zsigmond.

Cover art by Jowan Mead and Ilana Zsigmond.

Parker Lee: No Good Mornings EP

Wikipedia will tell you that ”Parker Lee is Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie's roommate at Hearst College. She is a Capricorn and her hometown is in Denver, Colorado.” While this definition of a Veronica Mars character does little to concisely sum up the band's second EP No Good Mornings, it is not completely irrelevant. To put Parker Lee within an appropriate musical framework, Denver, Colorado feels much more like home than York, North Yorkshire. There's very little on No Good Mornings that actually sounds typically British, and they comfortably stand out from their local music scene. Across the EP, the concrete, physical places it takes you are often also scattered elsewhere, away from rainy old England. More importantly, it's impossible not to draw comparisons to Cloud Nothings, Into It. Over It. and at times even Car Seat Headrest, all hailing from the US. Back on the British Isles, connections are fewer, although there is a likeness to early Twilight Sad.

While their sound resists easy categorisation, there is nevertheless confidence and definition throughout the record, with a consistent flow of style and emotional input to take from each track. Opening with 'Station Hotel', the simple melody steadily builds across 5 minutes, with Jowan Mead's rasping vocal and the thundering cymbals contributing to an almost anthemic feel. The transition to 'Office Hours' is seamless, and the second track is both catchy and fervent. Summarising the definitive sound of Parker Lee – driven, dynamic and grande - it's no wonder that the song was chosen as the lead single off the EP.

It is 'Waterworks' that is the highlight of No Good Mornings, however. It is by no means an anthem, nor does it make you want to jump, but the intensity of the first two tracks is balanced out by its slow pace and sparse guitars. This intimate atmosphere is at its best precisely where it's placed, with the rest of the songs emphasising its tones. Similarly, 'Waterworks' adds something to the rest of No Good Mornings, with the EP working better as one whole body of work rather than as individual pieces. While 'Michigan' seems to be craving a harsher guitar tone, it manages to combine the delicate and the rough, both in imagery and in sound, making it an obvious choice for the closing track.

With such a solid second EP and a sound that sets them apart from their local music scene, it's hard to think of Parker Lee as the young band that they are. No Good Mornings is a skilfully crafted display of musical certainty, vigorous enthusiasm and gutsy integrity.