This is the first album review I have written under the combined influence of COVID and a shedload of medication. It feels an appropriate coincidence as Parsnip’s ‘Behold’ sounds woozy and psychedelic, not always of or tied down by the real world. I hasten to add that impression had already been formed on a first listen before my life-altering stay in hospital.

A raft of influences flicker over the 13-song, 34-minute duration of the Melbourne band’s second album.  At various times it brings to mind The Kinks, the Nuggets compilations, Dolly Mixture, The Field Mice, DIY pop and punk, their fellow Australian Upset The Rhythm labelmates, Terry, and The Aislers Set. That is not to imply that Parsnip are a derivative band but that they greedily devour as many ideas as possible and form them into their own distinctive, delightfully chaotic sound.

The opening track ‘Monument’ starts with the looped sound of laughter. Rebecca Liston’s keyboard lines are reminiscent of Una Baines’ contributions to early Fall. Stella Rennex’s saxophone competes with and complements the sound. The sound has a child-like quality in the best possible sense: questing, unwilling to accept boundaries and psychedelic in its experimentation. It is engaging mayhem and is followed by the pop rush of ‘The Light’. Discussing the song, drummer Carolyn Hawkins, describes it as being about having the wool pulled from your eyes, the transformative power of anger, the Rumi quote “The wound is where the light enters you” as well as Leonard Cohen’s ‘Paper Thin Hotel’ which describes the experience of hearing an ex sleeping with someone else in the next room and being liberated by the realisation that he doesn’t care. There is also a little section that rips off Black Flag’s ‘Nervous Breakdown’. It is indicative of their approach that so much can be thrown into a song that reaches its destination in under two minutes.

‘Behold’ continues with numerous memorable highlights such as ‘Duality’, with its a blend of fragile post-punk and Nuggets-style 60s psychedelia and the slide guitar of ‘L.O.N.E’. ‘Placeholder’ could have easily found itself being released by Sarah Records in the late 1980s while ‘Pocket’ is an instrumental brimming with insistent but swirling organ, punctuated by sax.

The album’s best run of songs begins with ‘The Babble’ which has the air of a 60s summery classic rescued from the attic, its upbeat melody aided by buoyant whistling and some 12-string guitar. It is followed by ‘Turn To Love’ which stays in that era, led by mesmeric keyboard lines and great rough and ready harmonies. ‘Clear Blue Sky’ reverts to psychedelia, but of the clear-sighted, see how many melodic ideas we can explore in a short space of time variety rather than a male version that prioritises lengthy guitar solos.

Led by Paris Richens’ scampering bass, ‘Papier Mache’ recalls Lungleg and has them revealing “My head is gonna split in two, fix it with flour and glue” as a revelation of their DIY, Blue Peter ethos. The closing track, ‘Kutastha’, is the longest, heading towards the five-minute mark with wah-wah guitar and a harmonic drone fadeout which initially felt less appealing than the rest of the album but gradually reveals its charms upon repeated listens. First and foremost, ‘Behold’ is a lo-fi pop album, albeit one spliced with a crazed sense of adventure. This is one Parsnip that I will happily gorge upon.

Parsnip: Behold – Out 26th April 2024 (Upset The Rhythm)

– ‘Turn To Love’ [OFFICIAL VIDEO] (

I was editor of the long-running fanzine, Plane Truth, and have subsequently written for a number of publications. While the zine was known for championing the most angular independent sounds, performing in recent years with a community samba percussion band helped to broaden my tastes so that in 2021 I am far more likely to be celebrating an eclectic mix of sounds and enthusing about Made Kuti, Anthony Joseph, Little Simz and the Soul Jazz Cuban compilations as well as Pom Poko and Richard Dawson.