Jacob The Rabbit EP

Written by: TL on 24/08/2014 14:22:56

In the late nineties and the first half of the noughties, during the time when the emo term seemed to be simultaneously solidifing and diluting, one band to get thrown into the conversation was the quartet Park from Springfield, Illinois, which garnered a healthy serving of underground attention with various line-ups centering around singer/guitarist Ladd Mitchell. The band finally called it quits in 2007, when Mitchell opted to retire from music for personal reasons, but Mitchell returned to music in 2012 however, with the quietly compelling "Tiger Tank EP". And it seems his return inspired his former bandmates, because instead of proceeding under the Tiger Tank moniker, 2014 sees Mitchell back in Park along with guitarist Aaron Bickel, bassist Alex Haycraft and drummer Miles Logan.

The initial product of the reunion is this, the "Jacob The Rabbit" EP which is accompanied upon purchase by a short story written by Mitchell himself, the whole package acting as a prequel to an upcoming full length from the band that - judging from some of the titles on the EP - is going to draw some inspiration from Richard Adams' classic novel "Watership Down". It's three tracks long, and popping it on puts you right back in those confused times when it made sense to compare Mitchell's thin and affected singing to the emo musings of Saves The Day's Chris Conley, Mae's Dave Elkins or Silverstein's Shane Told. If you talk about musical components however, it becomes less obvious to use the "E" word. Eschewing predictable songwriting, "Jacob The Rabbit" returns Park as a band occupied with complex guitar arrangements and story-driven song-progressions. There's no punk energy or breakdowns like with Silverstein, and the sound is more sombre than warm like Mae's, meaning that the people most likely to find themselves at home here will probably be Coheed & Cambria fans, so long as they know not to expect any of the more metal-inspired ideas that Coheed tends to explore.

More importantly than in terms of references however, Park is a band that shows on "Jacob The Rabbit" that you can tell a big story even if you don't have the most well-rounded singing voices or the most expensive arsenal of effect pedals. The EP finds its strokes of epicness with a thunderclap and dramatic "oh-oh-oh" chants setting the mood on opener "Lepus Fugam" before the guitars race off, and the closer "Tickling The Trail Of The Dragon" throws in an ominous church bell and some muffled spoken word to further set the atmosphere. Details like that help boost the sense of ambition from the returning band, but it is not just superficial, because Park does a good job of flashing their finest quality, namely that the winding guitar intricacies consistently manage to reward the listener through their dynamics, even if the songs aren't the most memorable due to lack of obvious choruses. Much like if you were listening to Boys Night Out's "Trainwreck" or Coheed's "In Keeping Secrets..." or "Second Stage Turbine Blade", the atmosphere is the most striking property and the catchy bits can seem almost like occasional side-effects while the well of melodic ideas is so busily flowing over.

The result is an EP that shows that "Park" are back with a mission. They have a story to tell, and they're going to set it up as dramatically as they can on their comeback full length, which is going to be their fifth overall. Simultaneously though, they remain true to their style of nearly ten years ago, as just like then, they're not a widely appealing band, because focus is on making the songs work within the framework and within their niche-like emo-prog style, meaning that they might seem somewhat forgetable unless you do take interest in either the record's concept or the band's unique style. If you do take interest in either or both however, "Jacob The Rabbit has the potential to hint at the curious listener that there's a coherency to be uncovered by listening closely (or perhaps by buying the EP and reading the short story). Whether the EP fully delivers on this potential is a slightly more tricky question though, and one wonders if it couldn't have managed to be both story-telling and more immediately engaging at the same time? But then perhaps Park are saving their best bits for the full length?

Download: Lepus Fugam, The Infection Of El-ahrairhah
For The Fans Of: Coheed And Cambria, Moneen, Boys Night Out, Mae, InMe

Release date 15.07.2014
Bad Timing Records

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