Review// PARKER – The Life Illusion

PARKER’s new EP is a solid enough electronic pop release, but does it live up to the hype?

Parker | Electronic pop artist | The Life Illusion

PARKER has had a really interesting few years. The electronic pop artist has caused quite a stir commercially, with support from most tastemakers, a feature slot in Spotify’s fresh finds playlist and a track appearing on MTV’s Catfish. Following that, debut EP The Life Illusion has a lot of expectations to meet.

Fortunately, the EP manages to meet these quite comfortably for the most part. From the first striking vocal hook of Thighs to the spacious synth blasts of High, the EP is a consistently powerful listen that embodies the best characteristics of electronic pop. This is particularly, and arguably most, prominent on the first track Thighs. The use of a haunting and glitch-styled vocal hook makes the single memorable from the get-go, with synths like late night siren wails setting an atmospheric and dramatic tone that runs through the entire release.

This is the calling card of The Life Illusion. Each track, while imbued with a pop sensibility, is far too climactic or dramatic to sound comfortable on a mainstream radio playlist. Second track Doubles, for example, is dark pop at its finest with apocalyptic rhythm tones and deeply emotionally-driven vocals. It’s not your typical mid-afternoon radio gem, but it’s a precious track nonetheless.

However, the consistent sound of doom-laden rhythms, tension and drama also works against the release. Listening through from start to finish tends to make each song blur into one another, with only specific song segments staying in the mind by the end of its 26 minute run time. It ends up leaving the EP feeling like great background music, but nothing particularly memorable after the first track.

For this reason, it’s difficult to say whether the EP lives up to the hype. Individually, each track is powerful and worth a listen. But moments like the breathy lustiness and sheer hypnotism of The Suburbs and the impactful choruses of 316 feel washed out by the overarching sound that runs across The Life Illusion. If it wasn’t for closing track High being a fan favourite with a strong chorus vocal – which sounds like a perfect blend of Lana Del Rey, Lorde and Annabel Allum – and melody, it too would fall victim to this.

The Life Illusion is by no means a poor release, but it’s one that is so coherent and densely packed with moody electronic-pop that it begins to congeal into one 26-minute long track. There’s not quite enough instrumental variation to make it truly interesting for repeated listens; once you’ve heard three songs, you’ve heard the fundamentals of all of them.

PARKER has established herself as one to watch, so we can hope that the debut album fixes these faults and lives up to the hype her singles create.

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