You don’t often come across a married couple with as much style and talent as that shared between Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans. This Upstate New York-based duo, better known as The Parlor, is gearing up to release their third full-length record entitled Kiku, a deeply personal concept album inspired by an unimaginable loss.
Kiku is named after the Japanese word for chrysanthemum, a flower which bloomed on Krans and O’Connor’s farm after the tragedy of the couple’s second miscarriage. Inspired by the grief to explore new sounds, Krans and O’Connor began writing music again and soon found their spiritual bond to their lost child deepen through their songwriting process. Though they’ve never been afraid to delve into foreign sonic territory, Kiku sees the most dramatic departure from previous modes for the duo, who for the first time have opted for a predominantly electronic sound. Unsurprisingly, Kiku is their darkest foray yet, exhibiting a somber emotional palette in stark contrast to the comparatively celebratory sounds of their previous album Wahzu Wahzu.
Though Kiku was primarily inspired by personal tragedy, not every song deals with that event specifically. Lead single “You” has nothing to do with the couple’s pain, but rather is a reflection of the superficiality of modern social media culture. Part critique, part commiseration, “You” struggles with the feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction that we’ve all felt scrolling through our social media pages, seeing all the perfect, happy people enjoying their perfect, happy lives. Musically, the song has something of a vintage darkwave vibe, built on a foundation of sparse drum machine patterns and wavering analog synthscapes. O’Connor’s shimmering vocals glide atop, their ethereal beauty an antithetical juxtaposition with the invectives of the lyrics. The result is the kind of contemplative, artistic anti-pop the music scene needs more of these days.
Check out “You” below, streaming exclusively on Culture Collide, and check out the album Kiku when it drops on April 13th!