The first track of Quaker Parents’ new album, Our Drawing Club is called ‘Our Welcome: Intro’. It’s a forty-two-second slice of fried gold. A heavenly cascade of melodic synth notes, then a stutter, a beat, and then we spin off – away into the unknown. This one track is a good key to the following sequence.
The brainchild of Canadian artist Mark Grundy, Quaker Parents, is a project that explores the magic-realism of pop music. On one level the familiar framework of drum-machine tempos give a point of familiar reference. This is the kind of place where normal songs happen. But then, on a bunch of other levels Quaker Parents endeavor to undo all familiar habits.
Melodies achieve the rare feat of sounding pure and uncomplicated, but they still reveal surprise and originality. There are moments of near-perfect beauty. ‘Not Addicted’ is a simple-enough ditty, but Grundy works an angle, delivering a pace that slowly unpeels what a chord progression can actually achieve when given space and affection. “I’m not addicted to love,” he sings, “I just believe in it all.”
It’s the pursuit of purity, both melodic and lyrical, that’s do deeply heartening. The vulnerability that Quaker Parents open is courageous, radical, almost. On ‘One Time Luv’ the production erects a cornerstone. Grundy shows how one thing can make two things, and how two things can point to the significance of a third. He fucks about with content and form – the conveyance of meaning is reflected with incredible ambition for a lo-fi project. Two drum-kits play here and there, two base tracks undulate, and then there’s the vocal tracks. The conscience and subconscious enter into a kind of dialog, each jostling for the attention of the ego and id at the center of it all. It’s truly magical stuff. Disarming as anything you’ll hear if you listen with your heart.
As pretty, and easy as Our Drawing Club is, it’s not an album devoid of challenge. For all the vulnerability and sensitive enquiries, there is also a measure of pressures. Quaker Parents carry with them a kind of bullshit meter. The mission here is not so much set on making things that are acceptable, but in rejecting things which are unacceptable. Truth is beauty, and beauty truth.
‘Why Worry Now?’ addresses the honest transactions between self, process, and other people. “I’m not a leader, I’ve found a kind of comfort in the crowd, I use my voice to make it go loud. Why worry now? There’s tons of things that work better”. All of this served with a kind of bleeped-out version of high-life guitar which pours in the optimism. We’ve accepted the limits, and in doing so our energy is limitless.
HURRY – BUY – QUAKER PARENTS MUSIC
PHOTOGRAPH BY MIRIAM PAAS