Matthew Parker is a music-making machine. Between his national debut, Shadowlands, in 2014, putting out The Worlds We Discovered under his side project, Twilight Meadow this past March, and all the remixes he does for Capital Kings, Jonathan Thulin, etc, Parker has been creating new music at a superhuman rate (especially considering he produces his own material). Already known for experimenting with his sound, Adventure is Parker's most sonically diverse album with a mixture of pop, EDM and his self-defined dream electronic, as well as some dub step and hip-hop thrown in for good measure.
Tracks like "Heaven Calling" and "Remember Me" carry an Owl City vibe with bright synthesizers and buoyant melodies, "Tidal Wave" and "Unstoppable" sound similar to Capital Kings with big drops and heavy electronic beats, and "System Victim" and "I Ain't Got No Money" land in the modern pop genre with catchy beats and shiny production. Jumping from one genre to the next can be a bit jarring at times, but for the most part Parker pulls it off with skill. "Down In Flames," which speaks of the depravity of man and our need for a savior, mixes all three styles to create an album highlight. What really sets "Down In Flames" apart is the incorporation of a hammer hitting iron as part of the beat and pulling off a surprisingly good electric guitar solo.
Lyrically, this album takes a reflective, non-bitter look at a broken romantic relationship, yearns for a higher purpose in life (often with spiritual undertones), and shares excitement to go on unspecified adventures with a significant other. Though there is a lot of "flying" and "touching the sky," it's a relatively grounded album that, for the most part, avoids sounding trite or cliche. Like his previous releases, Parker brings on slew of guest features to further diversify his sound. Some provide raps in a bridge (Cash Hollistah, Tristan Peace), while others provide vocals throughout the song (Brad Dring of Rapture Ruckus, Spencer Kane).
Because of all the guest appearances and style variations, every song has its own vibe, but there is one that musically stands apart more than others, the quasi-hidden track after "Remember Me." As the song fades out, there is some random banter and then the song explodes with a danceable synthesized beat and catchy horn hook. It has a great melody that is undoubtedly the most fun musical moment on the album, but the lyrics here are a little too amateur, with Parker making comments like "fake trumpet take it away" and "this song is the one that I might later regret." There are a few other moments that seem too amateur, most notably the chorus of "Unstoppable," which repetitively declares the redundant lyrics "everything is possible / nothing is impossible." The only other significant criticism is the overall length of the album. For some records, a 59-minute running time can be very appropriate, but in this case, cutting tracks like "Dynasty," "Fly," and "My Love" (which would cut it to a more reasonable 46 minutes) would have tightened up the tracklist. This is especially true because this style of music usually appeals to a younger audience.
Overall, Adventure is a fun album that continues to prove that Matthew Parker is one of the most promising new talents in the industry.
- Review date: 10/19/16, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com