Few things that happen so frequently are as revered as nightfall. While the majority of society embraces the fresh start afforded with the arrival of a peaceful morning, for some, dawn represents a closing chapter in a nightly episode that plays out like a vampiric Groundhog Day. Glenn di Benedetto, the flask-swigging crooner of dusky glam-rock troupe Parlour Bells, understands the concept of coming alive just as the sun fades. The Bells' new EP, Thank God for the Night, is less a love letter to nightlife and more a police blotter of the messy arc experienced with each foray towards midnight, from the ambition and intrigue you feel while getting your hair did, to the climax of passing out somewhere piss-drunk, alone or not-alone. It's a bedtime story for adults who never go to bed.
"The best things happen at night; all my ideas come to me at night, all my mistakes happen at night, and I feel like people look their best at night," di Benedetto explains, sipping a martini at Eastern Standard and dressed for this Monday meet-up like it was Saturday. "There are always two aspects: there's the preparation, the style, getting dressed up. And that's all to get fucked up and destroy what you've created. Isn't that what night's all about? You put on a suit, but you already know where it's going if all goes well — it's ending up on the floor."
In late 2010 Parlour Bells released Heart Beatings, a collection of songs written by di Benedetto and guitarist and longtime collaborator Nate Leavitt that reinforced the duo's glitzy, noir-pop sound. But it was also written entirely before the Bells would first perform live. All of the songs on Thank God for the Night — from the sinister, burglar chimes of "You Don't Wear That Dress, The Dress Wears You" to the synth-lounge yearning of "Bachelor Hours" — were fleshed out on stages across Boston before being crystallized in the studio.
The result is a more grandiose sound, which includes a guest sax appearance by Morphine's Dana Colley on "Dress," rounded out by a live band with bassist Brendan Boogie and keyboardist Magen Tracy. The record, while released digitally, also comes with a detailed storybook depicting the band becoming increasingly disheveled and rolling on crescent-moon-shaped pills. The visual fits the sound, a mix of Hunky Dory-era Bowie and the second half of Jane's Addiction's Ritual Do Lo Habitual (the band once earned the approval of Dave Navarro for their cover of Jane's' "Classic Girl"). There's a theatrical element to it all, but it's still appropriate for the lounge.
"As much as I'm into minimalist sounds, I grew up on '90s bombast," di Benedetto admits. "I'm intrigued by something that's a little ugly, as long as it's pushing the boundaries."
PARLOUR BELLS + GENTLEMEN HALL + OLDJACK + MELLOW BRAVO :: The Sinclair, 52 Church St, Cambridge :: December 15 @ 8 pm :: 18+ :: $15 doors :: 617.451.7700 or sinclaircambridge.com