This Is Fake DIY
There are few more heart warming pleasures than hearing a new record from a much-loved band who were previously assumed to be on something of a hiatus. It’s been six years since The Electric Soft Parade’s ’No Need To Be Downhearted’; the intervening years having seen solo projects, personal and emotional exploration and upheaval as the White brothers stepped back from the at times arduous grind of the music industry. During their absence they reconvened to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their Mercury nominated debut ‘Holes In The Wall’ and it is in that album’s spirit that they have crafted ‘IDIOTS’, a fourth album that shows they have lost none of their ability for making guitar pop.
Of course, this is an older and more refined Electric Soft Parade. The spirit of their youth is now complemented by a more measured and nuanced sensibility. The record is full of nods to unabashedly ambitious 70s pop rock bands like ELO, as well as the quaint and jaunty musicality of ‘Sgt Pepper’s’-era The Beatles. This manifests itself in some glorious songs that combine an understated charm with a rich melodic quality.
Opening track ‘The Sun Never Sets Around Here’ is disarmingly familiar; the lyric, “now it’s back to work as if I never left” apt for the ease in which they dispense with such timeless sounds. The rush of ‘Summertime In My Heart’ replete with joyous ‘whoo-ooh’s’ continues the record’s upbeat start. The delightfully countrified guitar line that runs through ‘Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone’ is one of the album’s many little joys.
There is an expanse here that has come with age and experience; ‘The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore’ morphs from a folksy beginning into a grand aching ballad full of yearning guitar solos. You couldn’t imagine them doing this twelve years ago but now it feels just right. Equally as effective is the bouncy ebullient theatricality of ‘Mr Mitchell’, a quaint little character study that is perhaps the only song this year to name check the Dundee-Brighton train line.
In amongst the numerous slices of upbeat guitar and piano based pop there are a few moments of interesting subversion. ‘Welcome To The Weirdness’ is suitably oblique and highlights the White brothers’ ability to subvert their own melodic tendencies into something a bit more oblique. However, even this song blossoms into a soaring climax.
As the gentle piano ballad ‘Never Again’ plays out it fills your heart with joy. ‘Idiots’ is the wonderful sound of The Electric Soft Parade belatedly coming of age. – Martyn Young
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