Russian Girlfriends - In the Parlance of Our Times (Cover Artwork)

Russian Girlfriends

In the Parlance of Our Times (2019)

a-f records

I don’t know much about Albuquerque, New Mexico. I also don’t know much about desert life or living in the Southwest. I do know Fenix TX wrote a pretty good desert rock influenced alternative album named Lechuza. The album took a step away from the band’s pop-punk roots and away from their original fan base. While the final note in the active years of Fenix TX, Lechuza always stood out to me as an alternative rock album done right.

Enter Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Russian Girlfriends some 20 years later with their first release for A-F Records. Much in the same vein of building on more humble beginnings, In the Parlance of Our Times mixes alternative rock, punk rock, and rock for a blistering 32-minute roll. The album comes roaring out the gate with opener “Coke” immediately highlighting the stand out guitar work that takes the energy of punk rock and shapes it through huge rock riffs. The minute rager transitions into “Angry Bong Rips.” This brings us to album highlight number two, the vocals. Vocalist Adam Hooks (Ed. note: What a rock name.) croons and screams through the track exuding 90s rock energy. Think Stone Temple Pilots meet A Wilhelm Scream, which is also not a bad reference for Russian Girlfriends as a whole.

The front half of In the Parlance of Our Times is incredibly strong. “Redfield” shows off some pretty technical cymbal work during a riptide speed chorus. It ends in double bass patterns driving through the finale. In no way is the impressive stick work only a product of this song. “The Day We Put The Dog Down” comes closer to pop-punk territory, but in the sense that latter-day Strung Out does. The album does tend to blur a little towards the end, partially as a product of how similar some of these songs are and partially because of how strong the first handful of songs are. “Obsidian” is a standout on the back half.

Despite the affiliation with A-F Records, Russian Girlfriends make no claims to the punk scene. They are a rock ‘n’ roll band. The aforementioned “Angry Bong Rips” interlaces a story of a boring nine to five life through metaphors about the rigidity of the punk scene. Hooks screams “I’m getting bored Becky / I’m getting bored.” In the Parlance of Our Times addresses a range of topics including religion, politics, and desert town aspirations.

Much like Lechuza, In the Parlance of Our Times strikes me as an alternative rock album done right. The riffs, the energy, and rock ‘n’ roll cliché are all found in enjoyable bursts throughout. Also, like Lechuza, this album may be in search of an audience coming out with connections to the punk scene, but that shouldn’t stop any rock ‘n’ roll fan from checking it out. Maybe there's something in the desert air?