An Interview with Dan Parr of The Last Whole Earth Catalog About Their Newest Album, Do You Face The Brutal Reality?
By Alexandra Henriques | Top Tracks: “All and Everything,” “You Never Would Know It,” “31”
On October 28th, The Last Whole Earth Catalog released their 13th studio album, Do You Face The Brutal Reality?. The album features ten songs, four of which were released throughout the year as singles. I had the honor of interviewing Dan Parr, the lead of the band, on their newest album and their recent work.
The Last Whole Earth Catalog began with Dan Parr but expanded to include bandmates Ben Clifford, Theo Bass, Benn Peters, Pitt Vitheethum, and Alex Polise. Do You Face The Brutal Reality? also features Joe Jackson, Liam Murray, and Oli Russell. The album is slightly different than their usual sound as the band has spent the past six months touring the United States. Parr described it as “piecing together older ideas on piano or building acoustic songs,” with less drumming and electric guitar than usual. The result was an album that mixed the sounds of folk and jazz.
The album starts with “Bird by Bird,” a song that feels heavy with nostalgia as Parr sings about how “the memories you lose / are not ones you chose.” When asked about his lyricism, Parr explained that he is “always trying to get to a sweet spot of simple but not cheesy, specific but also applicable to loads of different things. Lyrics for [him] are most powerful when [he doesn’t] quite know what the meaning is, but instead feel what it means.” Do You Face The Brutal Reality? features an abundance of lyrics that carry the weight of reminiscence and regret, as highlighted in “You Never Would Know It.” The melancholy lyrics make it one of the saddest but most worthwhile listens of the album. It is just over eight minutes long and combines the sounds of piano, synth, Parr, and Jackson on vocals.
“All and Everything,” the third track of the album and the last single released before the album came out, features the album’s namesake. It starts slow but progresses to yells and loud guitar playing by the time the song concludes, which makes it one of the most interesting listens from the album. The transition between “All and Everything” to “Who Pays the Ferryman?” is prominent as “Who Pays the Ferryman?” begins with light piano playing and errs towards jazz music with the featured saxophone. Each song off the album has such a distinct sound, though Parr would not call most of his music experimental. He expressed how he “just like[s] trying different things and so occasionally things sound weird or have some element of self-destruction.”
The album ends with “Last Words”, a song with repeated phrases, double bass, and an assortment of other instruments such as the guitar, the sound of coins, and a mandolin. It is the most folkish song off the album, featuring high-energy instrumentals for the second half of the song, though the lyrics tell the story of a man ridiculed and bound for his thoughts.
Overall, Do You Face The Brutal Reality? is a wonderfully made album. Every song is beautiful, entrancing the listener with the mix of sounds and Parr’s vocals. It is wholly worth the listen.
You can find Do You Face The Brutal Reality?, as well as the rest of The Last Whole Earth Catalog’s discography, on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp.