Arliss Parker – Handsome like a Lion

 Chris Parker is the mastermind behind Arliss Parker. Same last name with a change on the first name and although it might seem silly, upon closer inspection makes fitting sense. Parker’s debut, Handsome like a Lion, is a slick fusion of folk and electronic (a little heavy on the latter) and it makes for a rather soothing experience. Parker used to create quiet and homey recordings before he decided to branch out and add varied instruments and keyboards.

At well under twenty minutes and covering only six songs, this doesn’t feel anything like an LP. And although it isn’t delivered with the “EP” label, it’s hard to call this anything but an extended play. Nonetheless, everything on here is necessary, diverse and helps in crafting a cohesively impressive listen.

The percussion, which includes everything from rhythmic tapping to snappy snares and tight clasps, all sound crisp and fresh. A few of the songs carry an acoustic instrument over everything; whether it be a string-like tone on “Oh My” or bouncy piano chords on “She Smiles While She Sleeps.” The latter sounds like something taken from Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser. Frayed with spastic beats and a passive piano, the music is like a gentle cascade of water, washing over you.

A lot of the music tends to carry a genuine and often, real demeanor. Nothing ever sounds forced and though one of electronic music’s largest downsides is the lack of a human side, the beats and forces on this debut definitely are affecting. “Taken to Antrim” is something Peter Bjorn & John could have conspired but Parker fills it with catchy production and an acoustic guitar that rustles and glides over the keyboards.

The only true breakdown is the album closer’s repetitive and pacing music. While the rest of the album never sounds tiring, the atmospherics and redundant playback of the same melody is utterly boring. However, this is not too distracting because after setting up a nice flow, attributed to Parker’s musicianship, “Our Favorite Films” serves as a retrospective search.

The beginning of this debut is what sucks you in. Once you arrive to the heartwarming, “Besos,” which is Spanish for “kisses,” it certainly resides to a comforting feeling. Parker chooses to completely avoid vocals of any kind and a certain risk comes with corresponding criticism if not done right. Fortunately, this only allows him to capture the essence of his music and forces him to convey it in a manner that is both captivating and redeemable. 

With a knack for writing cozy, near-ambient music, Parker has found a certain niche. His roots are definitely in folk music but a discerning ear can spot glowing melodies from a mile away. With Handsome like a Lion, Parker has featured an array of sounds and conversing production that will surely garner some attention. If only we could work on that title now.