It’s not hard to be a little envious of dogs. They’re loved by just about everyone, are not burdened by responsibility, and are essentially always present, there for the moment. On Chicago based Varsity’s sophomore release, Parallel Person, the quintet begins the album with a track praising, and admiring, a dog’s life. On “Gordi,” front-woman Stephanie Smith sings, “I was only just trying to tell you / All along that you’re the dog, I’m the person… Waiting for the appropriate time / To sit you down and find the words / I’m the person, you’re the best, and I’m the worst.” In a tongue in cheek way, the band vocalizes what every dog owner and admirer feels.
Throughout the ten tracks of Parallel Person, there is a strong sense of trust and friendship among the members. Comprised of Smith on keyboards and vocals, she is joined by Dylan Weschler and Pat Stanton on guitars, and Jake Stolz on drums and his brother Paul on bass. Their level of connection exudes through their bubbly brand of champagne-pop, with a dash of nostalgia. Conjuring up images of changes and new beginnings, Smith delicately sings on “Krissy”, “Hate to break the news to you / You never can go home again.”
Varsity has a knack for asking the hard questions, set to a twinkling instrumentation, bright garage pop for those who need to speak their mind. On “Watching U,” Smith sings, “All I’m asking for is your love / All I need it for is a crutch / And I watch you / When I want to.” With a sense of longing, there is an admittance for allowing love, letting it fully take over the heart, soul, and mind. The acknowledgment of wanting someone becomes a motif throughout Parallel Person, the resilience and unadulterated honesty striking a perpetual chord.
Varsity’s tracks are breezy in sound, fully sun-soaked and best served by the water. They’re hard to turn away from, pulling on heartstrings as the necessary thoughts are worked through, track by track.