Yet another Australian band has made one of the year’s finest records. Though Parcels have since relocated to Germany, they got their start in the same continent that’s supplied us with some of 2018’s best music. But while fellow Aussies like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Hatchie and The Beths lean more indie rock, Parcels are an entirely different animal: Parcels is the long-awaited dance party from the funk-friendly quintet of Daft Punk protégés, proof that disco isn’t dead and never was.
The bass ascends to its rightful place as a show-stealer on Parcels—the album would literally unravel without Noah Hill’s tightly-wound basslines and sweaty hooks. The first two songs, “Comedown” and “Lightenup,” are a stunning overture, each a groovy, cohesive jam reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire’s most sweltering work, and each an urgent motivation to get moving—almost the entire record is one for the dancefloor. In the middle, Parcels takes an intermission of sorts, with the vibey slow-jams “Everyroad” and “Yourfault.” But the respite doesn’t last long. The following track, “Closetowhy” feels especially close to the influence of mentors Daft Punk, with whom Parcels collaborated on a song last year, “Overnight.” Its rebounding synths and electronic mazes would easily fit in with the space-age grooves and warps of Random Access Memories.
Even more warps abound on “Tieduprightnow,” a single from the record that bares more striking resemblance to RAM. Like Daft Punk’s juicy collab with Julian Casablancas, “Instant Crush,” “Tieduprightnow” plays with hooky bass, looping drums and jingly effects, though Parcels aren’t fans of AutoTune. But “Tieduprightnow” is also grappling with different subject matters than Daft Punk were in 2013 or even 2001. Parcels are a young band, and they have a keen sense of what young people fear and desire in the year 2018. “Tieduprightnow” is a social media-spurred anxiety attack: “So let’s get ‘round to why / The one I need is tied up right now,” they sing. Visions of Snapchat stories and Instagram timelines abound as another familiar sensation—indecision—creeps up. “So let’s not draw the line / ‘Cause I can’t make my mind up right now.”
The debut from Parcels is tremendous fun, and it truly doesn’t sound like anything else happening in music today. That’s a huge accomplishment in itself, considering the broken dam of music constantly rushing our way through channels both digital and natural. Parcels feels miraculously out-of-place, conjuring ghosts of music movements past. But, with its perpetuation of millennial angst and ability to offer release through dance, it does so in a way that feels both necessary and relevant to our present day. Parcels aren’t the only Aussies making musical waves right now, but who else is bringing this much funk to the table? No one. “And that brings to the end of what we hope has been a beautiful trip for you and yours,” Dean Dawson sings in the album’s flight-inspired credits. Indeed, it has.