Tuesday, 26 January 2010

CONglamourART presents...a profile of Zac Pennington by Nick Jack Hudson

Nick Hudson 4 Zac Pennington: A Love Affair.

Zac Pennington is one of those coolly self-reflexive independent musicians who has adopted the Correctly-Abbreviated-Christian-Name Stance (CACNS, to those in the know), situating him in the enviable company of Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood and, um, a woman I used to work with called 'Eliz'. Zac Pennington is, in fact so cool, for this, and innumerable other reasons, that I am in fact considering signing off this net missal as 'Nich', just so as I might have the meagrest chance of sucking on the runt toes of even the lesser pantheon of the uber-cool within my lifetime. Hell, it's a start.

Pennington's band - previously comprising members of The Dead Science and of late fashioned from a piecemeal chamber orchestra - Parenthetical Girls, operate out of Portland, and over the course of three albums thus far, have presented such a seductive, sinewy, and beguiling case for experimental indie pop being very much alive and well, that I'm no longer sore over having missed the recent My Bloody Valentine reunion shows. Early patrons/collaborators included the aforementioned Dead Science crew, alongside Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu, whose own wobble-throated psychodramas sit amicably alongside Pennington's oblique tales of ruined mothers, hysterically damaged sex, and incalculably clever pop-cultural references.

I first heard Parenthetical Girls performing a Smiths cover, and kicked blind by the ferocity and ingenuity of their rendition, bought the 7" despite my not owning a turntable. I then systematically bought up the three full-lengths, and within two days, a form of geek/greek love had erupted with all the adolescent swooning and mimetic posturing I might have affected were I around when Morrissey first jacked off with a gladioli.

It occured in two stages - first I heard Zac Pennington's voice - that tremulous, insistent androgyne, with its spastic leaps between falsetto and 'man/boy' registers; that voice, curled around such erotic, puzzling song-poems. The Salvation Army tuba-tastic 'Four Rooms', shimmering with a perfect algebra of internal rhymes and lyrical intrigue lasts little over two minutes, and is easily substantial evidence of why they should be everyone's favourite band, even if only for the duration of the song. Though I defy anyone to fall OUT of love with this posse once snared.

The second thing to hit me happened when I went browsing online for an image of our hero/ine, to be confronted with perhaps the most exquisitely beautiful man(?) I've ever seen - the cheekbones, the carefree flounce, the bespoke jumpers, the sculptor's lips, the sabotaged-whore photo of him in a wedding dress (the sleeve image from the ...Girls' Tori Amos cover, 'Jackie's Strength') - to doubly swoon over the emanations of one creature in the course of a single afternoon proved too much.

I retired to bed, fanning myself with a gladioli lest I faint, weak in the presence of beauty, as Alison Moyet might have it. I awoke changed. A fresh flounce to my step. The inability to keep my arms by my side when singing. And a sudden urge (albeit a revivalist one - my early works are basically backwoods wank fantasies) to layer a carnal sensualism all over my new lyrics.

This band turn me on in every sense imaginable - surely the duty of the pop song. For behind its sprightly perversions and hyper-literate narrative weavings, Parenthetical Girls make FINE pop music. I never thought, that in my late twenties, I'd still be susceptible to that most knee-buckling, stomach-fluttering phenomenon known as The Swoon. How refreshing to in this instance be proven wrong.

By Nich Hudson, 16, Apparently.

Nick Hudson's further work can be found here -

1 comment:

  1. I Like Parenthetical Girls too.
    Greetings from México.
    Hope you read (or never read) this sometime.