If it were based on just the first half, Parc Avenue may very well end up very high on my year-end list of favorite albums. It's one of those releases that starts out so infectious and strong that you wonder how it can possibly keep things up. And even though it doesn't, it sparkles in enough places and shows off enough promise that it marks this young Canadian band as one to watch for.
The one-two punch of "Bye Bye Bye" and "Good Friend" to open the release are particularly strong, with the former taking on a sort of pastoral, choral, 70s sing-along vibe that mixes acoustic guitars, group vocals, and a batch of other elements into a joyous, anthem-style rocker that packs a lot into only three and a half minutes. The latter track moves into a more sturdy shuffle, but finds some delicious guitar and vocal interplay (along with some hilarious, but so true lyrics) blending together into a six minute song that doesn't feel a second too long. Keeping the strong work going is "Feedback In The Field," which rifles along with a brisk rhythm and is highlighted by some seriously funk wah-wah guitar fills and more great vocals. It's dense, but not overly-packed, and reminds me a bit of the earlier days of Broken Social Scene (in a good way).
If the group has a weakness, it's that they lose a bit of their direction during the latter half of the album, and veer into almost jam-band style antics in a couple places. None of the final three tracks contain the vigor that the first part of the album possesses, and it all ends with one of their wankiest moments in the nearly seven minute "Guru." That said, the group is certainly capable of stretching things out and keeping it interesting, as "New Kind Of Love" pushes up to almost eight minutes but doesn't feel even a bit overlong as it moves from sparse passages to huge blowouts with horns, strings, and the whole bit, retaining a keen sense of dynamics the entire way. In the end, Parc Avenue finds a band creating some amazing music, but still putting out some feelers along the way. I can't wait to hear what they do next.