It’s been 20 years since I saw the guys from The Parlotones playing a gig in Randburg on a stage the size of a flokati rug that could fit in a small flat, with guitars strapped so high they could shave the bristles of their newly grown face hair.
It’s been 20 years and they’ve written a story for themselves, securing themselves as one of the biggest indie rock bands SA has ever seen. Their new album China is a double album, featuring mostly all new songs, and some reworkings of some old stuff. To me, this album was make or break for me. The last few albums have been fence sitters, neither reaching starry heights or muddy lows, but neatly sitting in some sort of in between fan only like heaven.
Enter China
First of all -let’s talk the artwork. Lorraine Van Wyk Art, based in CT, paints her subjects and then photographs them. I bet it was fun painting around Neil’s beard.
Standout one of my favourite artwork pieces.
Then let’s talk the album. Blown away.
The songwriting couldn’t be better. There are some filler songs I wouldn’t mention but to say the band are back to form is an understatement.
Perhaps the twist to this album is the fact that Kahn flew on a jet plane to write with some big shot music people like Sacha Skarbek ( he wrote James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful), Richard Archer ( Hard Fi) and my beloved best friend Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. Well, we aren’t really friends but we did chill in CT together on tour and drank cocktails watching Camps Bay wildlife.
The album opens with a tongue in cheek song called Buckle Up, which pretty much means, “get ready for the ride boys and girls”.
A 26 song strong  album, there are some stand in the aisles swaying doing the Kahn airplane move stand outs. Antidote, one of my favourites on the album was written by the fifth new addition Parlotone, Rob Davidson. To say this song has been driving me crazy is well, crazy. It’s a weird hybrid mix of 80’s 90s space pop rock mixed with hooks reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys, Visage and Talk Talk. The chorus is massive – “You’re the ocean, I’m the sea, You’re the voice which calls to me, cut me down, set me afloat, on your tides my antidote”. 
Believe me, you’ll be barnyard drunk soon dancing to this one. The first single, Can You Feel it, written with that good looking boy from Hard Fi is just about as perfect as any first single can get. An existential ditty about how modern life is rubbish.
“This soul is tired of searching, this heart dont beat in time, this man is tired of walking, I cant find no rhythm or rhyme”. The chorus is stadiums of people HUGE.
“From sunrise to sunset, I dont wanna be flatlining
These reviews are meant to be shortest reviews in the history of the world ever, but how can you do that with a 26 song album?
Other stand out moments on the album are the melancholic ‘Downtown’, ‘Maya’ (with lovely complimentary vocals by Glen the comrades runner face paint man), Beautiful Life, (reminiscent of Kahn’s typical fairytale love song style), “Life will be golden, I will grow older with you“, and and and and and and …….
To keep churning out albums that are worthy of their stream time is a feat not easily achieved by a majority of bands.
China is an album worthy of its anniversary status – to be listened to drunk with fine wine.     – Review – Captain Joanne O