BioBrooklyn trio Parts & Labor combines tumultuous noise with enormous, triumphant melodies on their latest album, Stay Afraid. Malfunctioning electronics howl in agony, drums rupture like fireworks, battle cries are belted through a monolithic layer of distorted bass and guitar. P&L revel in day-glo noise, charred drones, punk velocity and phoenix-like hooks--a unique blast influenced by the clamor of Husker Du, the bluster of Boredoms and the homemade spirituals of Neutral Milk Hotel.
For their new record, Parts & Labor sought a bigger, more expansive sound. Dan Friel (keyboard/guitar/electronics/vocals) increasingly juggles guitar alongside his trademark mutilated keyboard, while BJ Warshaw (bass/keyboard/electronics/vocals) blankets everything with bass and additional electronic squall. They've picked up jackhammer drummer Christopher R. Weingarten, who hits so hard that the band was forced to double their amplifiers. Warshaw and Friel share lead vocal duties, emphasizing a lyrical element largely unexplored by the once-instrumental band. The result is a pop record that yowls like noise, a noise record that captivates like pop.
Simultaneously uplifting and unsettling, Stay Afraid's sunny, technicolor hooks provide stark contrast to lyrics concerning media scare tactics ("Stay Afraid"), government surveillance ("Drastic Measures") or the seeming futility of protest ("Changing Of The Guard"). Album opener "A Great Divide" finds Warshaw using each verse to explore a different division between classes and social spheres. "Repair" has Friel singing through an amplified walkie-talkie about the wastefulness of disposable technology.
After honing his iconoclastic sound using toy keyboard and budget electronics, Friel formed Parts & Labor with Warshaw in early 2002. Since then, Parts & Labor has released a clattery instrumental full-length (JMZ Records), a pastoral split full-length with Tyondai Braxton (Narnack Records) and several 7"s (including a recent split with Aa on their own Cardboard Records label). The band has traversed the country four times, playing with many of their favorite musicians along the way (TV On The Radio, Deerhoof, Melt Banana, Lightning Bolt, Enon and Brah CEOs Oneida). With Stay Afraid, Parts & Labor have released their most anthemic, accessible and realized outing to date.