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April 02, 2007

A Listeners Guide to Electric Soft Parade

Electric Soft Parade

Electric Soft Parade are a ‘classic’ indie band. In the same way as you get ‘classic’ rock, but without the potential for being appalling or having ridiculous hair, leaving just badly unshaven faces and good tunes. The brothers Tom and Alex White (no secret marriages here folks, they are actually brothers) have been going at it now for at least 6 years under this guise, although there was a heavy hiatus (i.e. they were dropped by their label) after second album, The American Adventure, to pursue side projects (included the much lauded Brakes). They bounced back to release the great Human Body EP on Truck Records late in 2005 and have spent the past year making full length No Need To Be Downhearted, ready to be released round about April 30th I think. But more on that later…

Holes in the Wall

Their debut, Holes In The Wall, is single-heavy, hook after hook from songs like Empty at the End and There’s A Silence from riffing guitars and keyboards. It’s not spectacular, but they knew their way around pop structures, despite some experimentations with the formula that don’t quite work (the 4 minute trainspotting outro in Silent to the Dark anyone?), there’s not a bad song in there. The album closes with two of my favourites though. Biting The Soles OF My Feet, as disgusting as it sounds, manages to fit verses, choruses and bridges all over the place, subtleties in the layers of music never making its 6 minutes a long haul. The final track Red Balloon For Me, is just a simple Beatles-esque ballad that is executed with perfect aplomb before cutting a left-turn into tape destruction.

The American Adventure

Follow-up The American Adventure should have been big. At least, that’s what the record label were hoping. What the White brothers delivered was a lot more introverted and meandering (not to mention possibly rushed) than the previous effort. The singles Things I’ve Done Before and Lose Yr Frown were the lighter exceptions. Song structure is played with a lot more, the centrepiece title-track starts with shoegaze, strips down for a verse, gets bass heavy for a while, another three different song ideas are played with before a violin bow drops us down where we end up with a Pavement pop song coda. It’s definitely a bold move to step away from the straightforward pop, but as an album it’s a heavy drag to get through. However saying that, the two-three combo of Bruxellisation and Lights Out is the best section of the album, playing with more luscious production without compromising the songs. The former is full of twinkling guitar lines, build-ups and let downs without shoving it your face, before seguing into Lights Out a chunky reimagining of their established sound with a killer chorus.

The Human Body EP & No Need To Be Downhearted

The album pretty much bombed commercially, the band seemed to disappear. I heard snippets around that they were still going somewhere, but there was no output. Suddenly in 2005, Brakes appeared with Give Blood, and suddenly ESP were preparing an EP. A Beating Heart, which opens The Human Body EP, shows exactly where they ended up. A relentless thumping bass drum leads us into the first of three sections of the song, where the middle orchestral instrumental opening us up for the final punk thrash. There’s a lot more confidence on display, in both production and also with the full-on-ness (a new phrase I made) of the tunes. New single If That’s The Case, Then I Don’t Know is the obvious follow-up, another driving rhythm, a proper sugar-coated monster of a riff, coupled with a few hiccups in the chorus to keep you on your toes. Misunderstanding and Appropriate Ending continue the trend, great, nay, ‘classic’ indie pop tunes that stray from the formula just enough and with enough vigour to become staples of my head music playlist at any rate.

Look out for the rest of the album when it drops on April 30th, it’s about time for a comeback…

From Holes In The Wall (2002):
he Electric Soft Parade – Biting The Soles Of My Feet MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Red Balloon For Me MP3 Expired
[Buy The Album]

From The American Adventure (2003):
The Electric Soft Parade – Bruxellisation MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Lights Out MP3 Expired
[Buy The Album]

From The Human Body EP (2005):
The Electric Soft Parade – A Beating Heart MP3 Expired
[Buy The EP]

From No Need To Be Downhearted (2007):
The Electric Soft Parade – If That’s The Case Then I Don’t Know MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Misunderstanding MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Appropriate Ending MP3 Expired
[Pre-order the Album]

[The Electric Soft Parade Site] [MySpace] [Fansite]

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