Stalwart Christchurch artist Blair Parkes has been incredibly prolific in the last few years, crafting five melodic, hook-filled albums since 2016 – albums that have warranted considerable indie-listener attention.
‘Liveable Cities’ is the latest of these, and was notably written and recorded over the last year while he was recovering from cancer. Despite the circumstances in which it was created, the album’s 10 tracks don’t dwell on the negative or dark, instead embracing reverbed vocals and guitars, light vocals, upbeat rhythms, and warm, fuzzy textures.
The sound is enhanced by the mellifluous vocals of Miss Mercury, who worked with Parkes in the L.E.D.S, and whose voice provides an almost perfect harmonic foil to him. The slightly buried vocals add a choir-like quality to the songs. While much of ‘Liveable Cities’ might most easily be described as shoegaze, Hot May Night is one that steps out of that constrict, with a wiry guitar line taking centre stage and expanding the sound into something tonally more urgent.
After a career working in different genres, Parkes has found a sound that fits his songs well, though it would be no surprise if he keeps moving forward and adopts a new sonic approach for his next work. At 27 minutes ‘Liveable Cities’ isn’t particularly long, but a snappy reminder that Parkes is a formidable talent whose albums continually impress.