Going back to Parralox‘s first album, Electricity, is like rifling through a collection of the best singles of the 1980s. John von Ahlen’s celebrated lyric videos for Parralox compress the decade’s finest music into graphical quotes, hints and allusions, sometimes using nothing more than the colour palette of a Neville Brody or Designers Republic sleeve. On record, the references come fast and furious, in complex layers. Each listen reveals another tribute to Yazoo, Front 242, Propaganda, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, OMD, that John Farnham track from Hot Rod, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Human League, New Order, Kraftwerk – a breath-taking sweep through the best-loved poptronica of the period, even if the clue is just a particular reverb on the snare or a three-note chord played on a Pro One. Electricity is loaded with suggestive sounds to celebrate the sonic style of the decade that fashion forgot, but Parralox’s songs remain strikingly original and infectious.
The 2014 release of Electricity comes in two flavours. Electricity (Expanded), available for download at Bandcamp, delivers new, extended versions of all fifteen tracks from the 2008 original album. A physical release, issued in Germany, includes previously unreleased demos from the Electricity sessions, specially commissioned remixes of selected Electricity tracks and expanded versions.
Hard work has gone into perfecting the new versions, so that they aren’t just stretched out with drum fills (we’re looking at you, Pete Waterman and Trevor Horn) but genuinely built up with clever additions on the scaffolding first erected in 2008. “Black Jeans” is sexier than ever; “The End of Summer” even more Yazoo-flecked; and “Eastern Wall” is packed tighter with New Order, Human League and Italo disco references. Rebooted and suited, hotter than a “Cruel Summer,” Electricity (Expanded) is a solar flare of talented pop. It’s confirmation of Vince Clarke’s line: you really can’t get enough.