Sunday, 11 March 2012

Morning Parade - Morning Parade


s it safe to say that we can add Alternative to the ever-growing, ever-degrading list of genre tags that, in today's World, feel more like a hinderance than assistance? We have IDM, RnB, Post-Rock. Though most of them are respectable in their naturism (most of them), the over-usage of these titles and sub-titles in the vast multi-axis of music, can be, at the very least, an eye-roller. And here we have the tag of 'Alternative', vis-a-vis rock which isn't rock; artists that sound like band x but actually sound more like act y. But just what is it an alternative to? Well, Morning Parade, a five-piece from Essex may have the answer we've all been looking for (because, of course, we all know the true sound of 'Alternative' is one of the greatest mysteries of the musical World) with their self-titled debut release.

'Blue Winter' kicks off proceedings as you would expect from any 21st-century british act; swooning their guitars left and right behind a tussle of drumbeats and crashes of cymbals. There's more out-stretchedness here in comparison to your regular opener which may still feel half-asleep and struggling to kick off, but Morning Parade here sound as fresh and awake as their later tracks. Follower 'Headlights' continues vocalist Steve Sparrow's auspiciously bare-boned lyrics: 'Cause like a rabbit in your headlights/I am the beckon to your call,' Sparrow sings, 'And like the early morning headlines, I am all too predictable' It may stand a few struts lower than Interpol's or Franz Ferdinand's more catchier, wittier deliverance but there is still content in the music. It keeps the overall track away from simply boring us with the same-old 'I'm this, you're that' metaphoric lyricism.

'Running Down The Aisle' is the first slower-paced drawn-back track on the album - this formulae of past albums becoming almost a staple in past years. But here, Sparrow's vocals feel more believable and genuine to the mood - the drop of piano keys accompanied soon after by a well-placed drumbeat. There was initially a sudden vibe of later UNKLE albums when I first heard this and that's nothing majorly bad. It's a comforting listen, and doesn't ask too much from the listener. The drums continue to rustle frantically on 'Us & Ourselves' which shows nods and appreciation to said past acts - broadening guitar riffs likely that of Editors' efforts, elevating the interludes between vocals. They come in equal measures, but don't attempt to drown the sound with its silk-thin textures - the vocals here remain in focus, in touch, with the timing and the intensity of the track.

Yes, the vocals continue to command the stage these compositions lay presented across. Maybe it's this reason that Sparrow feels it's unnecessary to try out new methods or means to expand and triangulate his lyrics across in tone. The instrumentation continues to pool us across waves of distorted strings and collisions of percussion, but beyond that, the lyrics can only reach out so much from this supposed limitation. But 'Half Litre Bottles' shows a more delicate presenting of the band's guitar work, strums echoing confidently to a tone of voice not entirely heart-wrenching, but certainly far from monotonous or empty. 'Monday Morning's more synthetic spine of beats, that follows afterwards, works remarkably well given the wide-open string arrangements and guitar work peaks out during the highest points of the verse-chorus structure. High points here, aren't exactly explosive or guns-blazing as you'd expect from alternate rock progression and its apparent limitation of expression brings about a kindling of humanism about it. And that's what Morning Parade do so well on this album.

True, there is a partially-adventurous, partially-expected unleashing of uninterrupted chord-changes and slams of drums occurring more than just a handful of times. But where they lack in, what some may call, character. But even if the lyrics and sound fall a hairline short of melting into one another, their intimate and bold ventures do give us some intriguing mixes of voice and instruments. Closer 'Born Alone' could be considered the highest achiever of these fields. Almost six-minute in lengths, on the outside it certainly doesn't give the impression of being your typical three-verse rocker of the early 'noughties'. Why should it? Even if the song relies on the deliverance of the chorus parts, it's this deliverance that comes across really well - Sparrow's voice both pleasantly delicate yet maddeningly vulnerable in equal measure. Together, with the clash of guitars and drums, it only strengthens the singer's almost-pleading portrayal of this state of mind and state of being.

State of mind when it comes to these four-piece/five-piece rock acts may in most cases be limited to the detailing context of missing, or longing for someone, rather than something. But away from this semi-romantic connotation, the state of being shows no sign of slowing down. It's quite remarkable that even if we limit ourselves to these four-chord, four-string, four-four signatures, if you have the right voice and the right purpose for expressing your words, the most simplest structure can bring about the most wrenchingly-felt results for its listener. And Morning Parade, on their debut (let's not forget) have proved they have the longevity, alongside the technique, to deliver this. And if they build upon their lyrical themes, who knows what we'll be feeling, as well as hearing
~Jordan

7.5

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