When the Tree Bears Fruit

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The Australian quartet Parsnip are a delightfully weird group and their debut album, When the Tree Bears Fruit, is the kind of record that rewards multiple listens with the kind of deep fondness and respect only the most outsider-y music can garner. It's an assured, impressive debut from a band with a real vision and the skills to make it come fully to life. Getting past what seems on the surface like cutesy vocals, off-puttingly choppy instrumental backing, and lyrics that seem ripped from the pages of old-timey children's books, there is a much deeper undercurrent that contains all those things -- which could be cloying if not done as perfectly as the women of Parsnip do them -- but also truly sticky melodies, surprisingly touching vocal harmonies, and intricately interlocking instruments. They use a traditional guitar-bass-drums-keys setup but conjure up all kinds of beguiling sounds from them, much like groups like the Pastels or the Chills were always able to do. Tracks such as "Too Late" or "Soft Spot" are deceptively simple indie pop gems, "Rip It Off" shows off their witchy garage rock skills, "My Window" is a wonderfully queasy felt-folk ballad, and "Lift Off" is a jangling treat that would have been a highlight of Look Blue Go Purple's catalog. Parsnip play and sing throughout with a childlike -- not childish in any way -- glee that transmits out of the speakers like a candy rainbow and is sure to make anyone who's willing to give them a chance some real feelings of a similar nature.

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