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Constant Future
Format: CD / LP / MP3
Release Date: March 7, 2011
By Brad Cohan May 20, 2011

Brooklyn’s Parts & Labor have been on the steady climb to an inevitable “mersh” plateau since its inception nearly a decade ago. “Mersh,” of course, was tongue-in-cheek Minutemen-coined lingo for commercial exploits (see the monumental Pedro punk trio’s Project: Mersh (SST, 1985), and the core members of P & L, electronics masher/singer Dan Friel and bassist/beardo co-vocalist B.J. Warshaw, gave credence to that comical ethos (and it’s anti-war cry) with their synth-scrunching cover of “King of the Hill” on Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar, 2007).

By the time the rad popness sprawl of Receivers (Jagjaguwar, 2008) came out, the fireballing drum-basher/ace journalist Christopher Weingarten departed P & L, replaced by the meticulously restrained stylings of Joe Wong. In addition, drone goddess Sarah Lipstate (Noveller) was added for her guitar snarl. Ultimately, Lipsate was another (amicable) lineup casualty and P & L was reduced to trio form once again in time for this year’s Constant Future, their closest stab at a radio-friendly unit shifter and their most cohesive and melodic-fueled effort, to boot.

Recorded by Mogwai, Low, and Flaming Lips knob-twiddling bigwig Dave Fridmann for production value-heft, Constant Future certainly is spoiled by the special treatment. Prior to the Fridmann/P & L marriage, the trio already had their formula down pat: sonic fist-pumpers bathed in cheap electronic-shred and a delicious mother lode of hooks topped by the ecstatic, soul-draining singing of Friel and Warshaw. These dudes would have #1 hits blasting from car radios if there was a popular station for experimental anthemic rock and Constant Future were placed in heavy rotation. Alas, Fridmann has sharpened the edges, trimmed the fat, and made P & L sound effin’ arena-ready-huge. Warshaw’s low-end is Earth-rumbling (check out “Rest”), Friel’s keys streak melodically across (hear “Fake Names”), Wong’s beats rival Foo Fighters’ mega-drums crush (sample “Skin and Bones” and “Echo Chamber”) and the wordage is still world-weary but, in the end, it all still sounds like, well, Parts & Labor in full-on rock mode.

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