By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
On the surface, Parallel Play is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill string band—just your average quartet with a banjo, a guitar, a stand-up bass and drums. But there's more to the group's latest effort, The Floor's Made of Lava!, than one might initially suspect. Here, simple folk and bluegrass numbers are executed with a brand of gusto that recalls mid-'90s grunge, complete with tinges of pop-punk sensibilities thrown in for good measure.
Even when the banjo intro of the album's fourth track devolves into a cover of Green Day's "Pulling Teeth," it comes off more charming than shocking, and surprisingly more natural than the original ever sounded. In turn, what easily could have been seen as a tawdry gimmick instead ends up as one of the album's high points, thanks to the group's playful musicianship and harmonious vocals.
Whether singing about twirlin' a partner on the dance floor or, well, zombies, each track is just as enigmatic and toe-tappin' and foot-stompin' as the last—so much so that lines like "So if you're gonna leave me, shoot me in the head / then kick my corpse and check my pulse to see if I am dead" do little to dampen the mood.
Even a slightly superfluous cover of The Cranberries' "Linger" doesn't falter the disc's otherwise steady footing.