Accused of being overwrought and jumbled in music and storyline alike, Parenthetical Girls' Entanglements may be one of 2008's great misunderstood albums. For a taut 32 minutes, Zac Pennington's voice lisps, climbs, trembles, and falls over a baroque, mercurial orchestral score. His histrionics gave critics an excuse to write the Girls off as a hybridized, queeny imitation of Patrick Wolf and Xiu Xiu. Nevertheless, melodrama becomes this band and its subject matter, and in the case of Entanglements, Pennington found a doozy of a theme: a tale of forbidden lust, written in near-Shakespearian verse, which begins with its principle characters aged 10 and 21 (Pennington as the latter), and precious few clues as to either's gender. While certain details are kept shrouded, the acts and emotions are hyper-real, and the story's arc is plenty navigable. The lovers' advancing ages appear often as signposts on the road to their ruin, while the songs that bookend the cycle clearly reference what's documented within. In the closer, "This Regrettable End," Pennington offers the characteristically lurid image of a "throat red as fresh-stretched post-fuck flesh," before handing out equally tangible meaning in the form of a simple poetic plea: "Could those strings swell again lest mine eyes well instead?" The answer is "yes," of course, as his own six-piece and 16 classical musicians accompany the narrative's every turn with impeccable pacing and clarity.

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