Morning Parade have been around since 2007 and their debut album has been in progress for a while. According to the press release this album is particularly different as it ‘side steps the hype trap’ and by not rushing a debut album it enabled the band to ‘write the album they wanted to make’.
Personally, I had heard of the band name however was unfamiliar with their work. Quickly, I learned Morning Parade are in the realm of ‘Indie Rock’ and ‘Indie Disco’. The track listing reads like a guide to naming your Indie Rock songs with clichéd ‘clever’ quips. I digress. Let’s side step any pre review insults (as that would be unfair and not a review of the actual music) and descend into the debut album.
The album begins with distorted drums and into ‘Blue Thunder’. The high angled guitars, the constant strumming, and the overall indie-ness of is over powering. ‘Headlights’ follows the same formula of ‘Blue Thunder’. Distorted amp drums, constant strumming guitars. The chorus has washy ‘Ahhs’ with the lyrics ‘Like a rabbit in your headlights’, something that definitely made me cringe. It is such an obvious choice for a lyric. Not a great opening, these songs would fit in the background like white noise.
The House beat and disco fuelled ‘Carousel’ feels like MGMT or something else. It begins with a drum machine and electric piano. A fuzz effected bass and a glistening vocal reverb make for a quite pleasant track. It definitely feels ‘current’ however it will be dated in about 5 years. I enjoyed this one to a degree, maybe it reminded me of New Wave merged with Indie Disco. Things are looking up.
‘Running Down The Aisle’ is a piano and ambient string like piece up until about 1 minute 40 seconds in. Personally, I think this track suffers from making sure everyone in the band is doing something. This happens to lots of tracks in general, trying to find a reason to utilise everybody in the band all the time. The song would have worked if it was just a hypnotic piano and ambient piece with obscure rhythm hidden underneath. Instead the format is: quiet intro, lyrics come in, verse/chorus finishes, then everybody joins in till near end, return to quiet outro. This format seems to be Morning Parades favourite.
Andy Hayes’s drum work and his kit journeying is one of the good features during ‘Us & Ourselves’ during the heavy moments. The slight stereo panning emphasises the space of the track. It features a faux crowd cheering the lyrics along at the chorus with long chanting in the background. It is really a forceful anthem that should be shouted from football stands. It feels almost like a parody because of this chanting and vocal calling.
‘Under The Stars’ was released as a single and for good reason, it is quite a good track. Beginning with a distant guitars and sine waves the song builds in a similar fashion to a dance track. It is odd how they have combined elements of something akin to Deadmau5 ‘Raise Your Weapon’ with an almost waltzing drum beat and Mento jolt. Arpeggio synth work and a solid rhythm with a nice falsetto from singer Steve Sparrow. It is one of the most traveling songs and easily a crowd pleaser. Highlight number 2.
‘Close To Your Heart’ begins with a flanging organ sound. It is a fast paced ‘The Killers’ sound, the bass and drums work together nicely in the mixing. Once again though it feels like a background indie track. It isn’t exactly bad, it just does not feel good either. There’s no hidden textures, no masquerading sounds, it is blatant and almost too American, in the sense that everything is explicit stated. It seems to deal with issues of ‘Woaahooo’ and ‘Letting the night unfold’.
‘Half Litre Bottle’ is what ‘Running Down the Aisle’ should have been, or at least more so. It is a piano ballad with atmospheric chamber guitars and swells. The processed ‘Airbag‘ drums return for a song about ‘Monday Morning’. I wonder where they get their ideas. Arpeggiating guitars and washy synths are sparse for the first 2 minutes.
There is a sense of Kings of Leon on ‘Speechless’. It begins with a lofi piano and picks up into a full blown rock band track however the piano definitely remains on top of the track. The first verse is not as pleasing however it picks up at the chorus and through to the second verse.
‘Born Alone’ is a very slow monotonous piece. At least around the 3 minute mark is a new tinge of Yellow Magic Orchestra. Appropriate choice for the closing track as it does sum up the album.
Overall this album plays like a soundtrack to an episode of some awkward and sour tasting drama, probably ‘Skins’. The influences from Muse, Coldplay, The Killers, and other hip bands of now are so blatant. The album is quite tasteless, forcefully ‘anthemic’, and overtly unoriginal. However, a growing suspicion is that this year the music would can be guaranteed to hear a lot more about Morning Parade. This is one of those albums that will sell as it fits in all the right places. I will commend the musicianship, these guys know their craft. However aside from a few decent tracks the rest is as exciting as a dead fish. Actually, a dead fish is more exciting.
I think why the album does not work was caused by the one thing they wanted to avoid, making a rushed album. It sounds a little too 2010 already and it can only age worse. If it the album was a rushed effort it would feel a lot more raw and less contrived. It makes the whole thing suffer as the tracks become barely indistinguishable in terms of the actual notes. Obviously bands cannot make every track sound completely different, there is a limit to what you can do depending on the band and the fact there are only 12 notes. Morning Parade however set up too many tropes and conform to even more clichés, which makes it a drag experience. Not all clichés can be avoided, I understand that too.
Strangely, I think Morning Parade have great potential however, they need to do some changes and really develop something more unique and inspired. I do look forward to their next album.
- Blue Winter
- Running Down The Aisle
- Us and Ourselves
- Under The Stars
- Close To Your Heart
- Half Litre Bottle
- Monday Morning
- Born Alone
- Steve Sparrow – Lead Vocals and Guitar
- Chad Thomas – Guitar
- Phil Titus – Bass
- Ben Giddings – Synths and Piano
- Andy Hayes – Drums
(PS Apologies to the band if they read this. I genuinely listened to the album several times and I wanted to try and explain what I thought was wrong with it, yet I struggled quite a bit. I did not want to slate it and I did not want to criticise without explaining what I found wrong with it. I probably was not the best person to review the album as it just is not my taste and so there is that automatic prejudice. Hope there is something of value here.)