Single Review: Charlie Simpson – ‘Parachutes’

“Any residual affectation is washed away by his pastoral romanticism”

4 STARS

Digital Release: August 7, 2011

Physical Release: N/A

It makes sense that after exulting joyfully alongside commercial pop/rock with immature musical sensibilities with Busted and then departing from said band and sound to pursue a more angst-driven, heavy rock orientated vibe with Fightstar, one Charlie Simpson would want to take some time out to contemplate and chronicle his twenty-six years of emotional ups and downs. So it’s out with the bubblegum melodies and sing-along choruses of his teenaged self, as well as the serious-faced rumblings of his Fightstar years and in their place remains a finely executed, clear-cut guitar-driven sound which serves as a convincing confessional reminiscent of the rock sophistication of Snow Patrol. 

Not that you should expect the same level of detrimental alienation Gary Lightbody is well-known for – Simpson’s lyrics are permanently grounded as he rattles off apology after apology – “I’m so sorry for the pain/Sorry for the ache/Sorry for the moods I’m swinging”, a chorus that is saved from sounding too much like a Busted album track by a thoughtfully constructed production proving as immersive as his rustic tones and complimentary harmonies. Matched with a chiming piano and a modestly understated guitar accompaniment, there’s a lot of soul-searching here, that kind of walking the streets alone type of self-loathing that listeners will have to wade through but it’s delivered with such honesty and conviction, that in every melancholic lyric that slurs out of his mouth, any residual affectation is washed away by his pastoral romanticism.

‘Parachutes’ is certainly an interesting release. Maybe not in the way it presents itself as much more than a hearty slice of soppy rock, but interesting on a more implicit level – it proves Simpson’s versatility and maturity as an artist and that he himself can channel his emotions and present a more vulnerable, divulgatory guise. And whilst he’s not completely clear of the minefield of bittersweet clichés (“But I don’t need your hand/I don’t need your heart”), it’s counteracted by the rich blend of his musical past and it’s well-composed, refined nature.

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