Though it’s unlikely to ever reach the extremes of the modern rap scene, where burgeoning artists are now expected to release a constant stream of new music if they’re serious about building an audience, rock music is gradually taking on some of that sink-or-swim mentality. In the ever-intensifying competition to capture short attention spans, many bands are releasing more music than ever, faster than ever, and that’s just fine with Milwaukee’s Elusive Parallelograms. “We’re constantly writing and recording,” says singer/guitarist Andrew Foys. “We could probably write a record in a weekend, if we had to.”
The guitar-centric psychedelicpop quintet is releasing its new EP, Habits, this month, and has plans for at least two more releases this year. That accelerated pace marks a change of course for the band, which had taken its time crafting its first albums, 2009’s And Everything Changes and last year’s Modern Splendor. Habits was recorded and mixed in a comparatively swift week and a half, while the songs were still fresh in the band’s minds.
“In some respects it would have been nice to have been able to rehearse them a little more, but I think we’re realizing that we can get a lot of what we need to achieve without having to sit in a studio for a year analyzing the placement of guitar-amp microphones,” Foys says. “It’s important to us to have nice, clean, well-recorded albums, but you don’t want to get bogged down in the details; otherwise, the song can get lost.”
Habits certainly doesn’t feel rushed.
The songs are as tight and catchy as any the group has done, and the production is big and vibrant. An engineer by trade, Foys built his own studio several years ago, so the band records and produces its own material. Their production is decidedly hi-fi: a lush, multilayered surge of sound on the scale of Butch Vig’s big alt-rock recordings. “We all definitely like a diverse range of music—the SST-era stuff, the Elephant 6 stuff, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, the Minutemen, The Meat Puppets, and just a host of good American and British indie-rock— but we all came up heavily listening to ’90s alternative, so that’s definitely a touchstone,” Foys says. “We’re just really drawn to those cool guitar tones.”
The typical Elusive Parallelograms song is short and direct, in a rush to reveal its next melodic trick and then move on. Foys splits primary songwriting duties with singer/guitarist John Hense, which aids the band’s prolificacy and lends to the restless, almost antsy energy of their albums.
“Both Andrew and John are unique songwriters,” says guitarist Stefan Dostanic. “Andrew is more idiosyncratic—I can always recognize one of his riffs when I hear it—and John is very skilled at these catchy pop songs. He comes from a singer-songwriter background, but he’s really drawn to these esoteric lyrics. So the two have slightly different perspectives, but since we all flesh out the songs collectively, they hold together really well.”
Part of the joy of playing in the band, Dostanic says, is that their sound is constantly evolving.
“I feel that our earlier writing was more psychedelic, more unpredictable, more off the wall, but we’re tightening it up a little bit, which I think comes with maturing,” Dostanic says. “Our recordings have gotten much more layered and more complex. It’s a much more structured sound now, but it stays true to the philosophy we’ve had since we started the band.”
Elusive Parallelograms play an EP release show Friday, Feb. 3, at the Cactus Club with 1956 and Moss Folk.