Charlottesville-based band becomes ‘overnight’ sensation
The University is home to a variety of notable alumni, but it’s not every day that current Wahoos can enjoy former students’ career choices on the radio. With local favorite Parachute’s third full-length album “Overnight,” the group’s pop sensibilities have hit an all-time high and could catapult the group into an “overnight” sensation. Charlottesville’s little secret is on the cusp of becoming a national phenomenon.
Characterized by lead vocalist Will Anderson’s impressive range and delivery, Parachute’s first two releases, “Losing Sleep” and “The Way It Was” offered fresh takes on Top 40’s flavors of the week. Fans of old enjoyed tastes of both blue-eyed soul and modern pop and savored the unconventional yet irresistible addition of Kit French’s saxophone melodies. “Overnight,” which prompted the band’s massively popular two-night stay at the Jefferson last weekend, forgoes some of these trademarks in favor of the latest trends. Though enjoyable, Parachute’s latest effort isn’t without a few bumps.
Unbridled energy kicks off the record. “Meant to Be,” with tinges of electronica and acoustic guitar, establishes Parachute’s reinvented sonic palette as ripe for late-night debauchery. “Can’t Help” is surefire single material, with a lovestruck hook and a roomy backbeat. It’s post-reunion Matchbox Twenty meets Maroon 5, and the marriage is an amicable one. Speaking of Maroon 5, ghosts of Adam Levine’s day job drift into neighboring track “Drive You Home,” which brings nothing new to the table save the introduction of a bass-flooded mix, which continues for the rest of the album.
Processed beats and piano licks welcome “Hurricane,” one of the album’s flagship ballads. The interplay between male and female harmonies is pop gold, but the lyrics are cloaked in wooden metaphors. “Everybody knows I didn’t want it to end,” Anderson laments repeatedly. When bookended by the bouncy title track, with Imagine Dragons-esque arrangements pulsing throughout, it’s easy to miss the storm.
“Didn’t See It Coming” may boast naiveté, but the unrelenting pep borrows too heavily from the album’s caffeinated agenda and leaves much to be desired. Parachute’s momentum scales back for a glimpse at “The Other Side,” which is arguably more soul-influenced and mature than what’s broadcast on the record’s upbeat tracks – the spirit of 1997 is alive and well here.
Tom-tom rhythms and jangly keys forecast a Katy Perry album teaser, but “Waiting for that Call” trades teenage dreams for throwback sheen; the piano and guitar duel near the song’s coda begs for accompanying finger snaps. “The Only One” ushers in a pair of slow-burning love songs, and with the odd accents of vocals on par with a skipping record, the latter track – entitled “Disappear” and clocking in as the strongest selection on “Overnight” – outshines it in every way.
If there is any inkling of Parachute’s former glories on this disc, it’s apparent when the coffee-house ambience of “Disappear” kicks in. Reminiscent of the band’s first hit, “She Is Love,” the minimalist arrangement showcases potential for a future home on adult contemporary dials.
“You’ve gotta go higher,” a chorus of excited voices proclaims on the album’s parting thought. “Higher” is an excellent metaphor for Parachute’s rising potential as the band receives increasing exposure and attention. Though “Overnight” abandons many hallmarks of the group’s finest moments, it’s primed for the pop circuit. The band behind it is about to reach great heights. Let’s hope they don’t need a parachute.