CD Review of Losing Sleep by Parachute
Parachute: Losing Sleep
Recommended if you like
Maroon 5, matchbox twenty,
Nine Days
Label
Island Def Jam/Mercury
Parachute: Losing Sleep

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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T
his is their debut album, but a significant portion of the non-TiVoing population is already familiar with Parachute, thanks to skincare: their first single, "She Is Love," has been Nivea’s official jingle for the last few months, and every airing of the lotion makers’ latest commercial has pumped its gentle refrain into millions of homes on a daily basis. It doesn’t seem to have done much in terms of making the song an iTunes hit, but still, it beats paying an independent promoter to shill your music – and having people associate your song with sexy, lissome models never hurts.

What might hurt, at least a little, is that "She Is Love" gives the impression that Parachute is just another group of ballad-loving smoothies, which isn’t really accurate: Losing Sleep is actually a surprisingly muscular up-tempo pop record – and it doesn’t skimp on the hooks, either. The band’s brand of rock ‘n’ roll is exceedingly mannered and polite, to be sure, and producer John Shanks never met a rough edge he couldn’t smooth into oblivion, but this could be that rare record that has enough sweet and sour to appeal to mothers-in-law and power pop aficionados alike. The band’s bio lists an absurd litany of influences, from Stevie Wonder to Jay-Z, but feverish publicist dreams aside, Losing Sleep sounds like a catchier, more consistent cousin to Nine Days’ The Madding Crowd.

Parachute

Of course, if you remember Nine Days at all, you remember that they were a one-hit wonder whose star burned brightly behind a ubiquitous single ("Absolutely [Story of a Girl]") before abruptly vanishing – and that was 10 years ago, when the major label system still sort of worked, and before a good old-fashioned pop band had to venture miles outside the box – by, for instance, signing a licensing deal with Nivea – to get its music heard. These days, sponsorship or no sponsorship, there isn’t much room on the dial for a band like Parachute.

Then again, if this style of music stands any chance at reaching a mass audience in 2009, it’ll be through the big hooks and well-groomed charm of a record like Losing Sleep. For pop fans, just about every single one of the album’s 10 tracks (eleven, if you count the tacked-on acoustic version of "She Is Love") is a nice, slow pitch right down the middle of the sweet spot between pop and rock. Imagine Cheap Trick’s kid cousins, with the amps dialed down and the sexual tension sucked out, and you’ve sort of got the idea: it isn’t as rewarding as In Color, sure, but it’s at least a stone’s throw from Lap of Luxury’s brighter spots – and corporate ledger sheets willing, this is just the beginning for the band.

So if you’re a sucker for a big pop hook, and you’ve seen the Nivea commercial and written off Parachute as wusses, you’d do well to reconsider – as much as we’ve grown accustomed to sneering at music this resolutely crafted, it can still pack a melodic punch if it’s done right, and Losing Sleep is the proof.

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