Reviewed by Amelia Williamson

Park Rd: The Novel

Reviewed by Amelia Williamson

Park Rd: The Novel

West Auckland band Park Rd is invigorating Aotearoa’s indie pop space with their 13-track debut album ‘The Novel’.

The album comes after years of slow growing success since their 2019 triumph at the regional Rockquest competition in Tāmaki Makaurau. The band has since released an abundance of popular tracks, five of which feature on this debut album alongside eight new tunes.

Vocalist Tom Chamberlain heads the band with guitarists Angus Hampton-Carr and Leo Crawshaw-Bond, Carlos Martin on bass and Te Kapua Pene playing drums.

‘The Novel’ kicks off with June, revealing a synth-organ sound not heard before from the band. Chamberlain’s incandescent vocals intertwined with Mayer-like guitar riffs from Hampton-Carr make for a remarkable hook. The lyricism is poignantly bold, “I just sit in the corner, I just sit in noise,” the track drones, “…find comfort in the fading”. Lasting all of 1min 50 seconds June is the prologue of a book you cannot put down.

Alternating between light indie pop-rock tunes and stripped-back, heart-rending tracks, the album cleverly represents the makeup of a classic novel. Sleep:Awake and Postcard are wedged together in the middle , and signify a deeply personal change of pace. The bare, unadorned production marks a clear phase in the record, and poignantly positioned within the album commands attention. “Maybe I should just try to wake up with the light of day,” Chamberlain sings in Sleep:Awake, later adding, “I’m afraid of losing my mother”.

Things kick back into action with Did It Anyway which holds strong resemblance to an Australian indie band you might hear jamming on the East Coast. At a pop rock pace, this track showcases the talents of Carlos Martin with groovy drills on bass guitar. Edgy vocals and lyricism are also a defining feature. “I want it bad, I want you with the band, I thought you would’ve never called,” Chamberlain sings, ‘And you’re like glue, and I’m stuck to you. I did it anyway.”

Title track, The Novel is the contextual alchemy of the album which brings the record full circle. “I feel like I’m writing a novel, where I get the girl, and we cause some trouble”. ‘The Novel’ is sonically and poetically crafted, and maintains a high level of distinction in its production. There is a great deal of room in Park Rd’s performance to appreciate both the individual skill of each musician, whilst recognising the undeniable synergistic quality of the group.

‘The Novel’ is a culturally relevant narration of life on the borderline of adulthood, yet still catchy and melodically innovative. It is filled with deeply vulnerable lyricism, strung together with upbeat pop-rock tunes inspired by the complexity of adolescence.