Electric Soft Parade

The Electric Soft Parade boys are hard workers. Having just produced a stonking record as half of Brakes, they have somehow pulled together another album that has more choice than a family-sized barrel of biscuits. From light and fluffy, to full-out Indie anthems, “No Need To Be Downhearted” really has something for everyone.

The album opens with the floaty “No Need To Be Downhearted (Part 1)”, which lulls you into a false sense of serenity, as it’s chilled-out and drifts over you a bit. Then track two, “Life In The Backseat” jumps in and you’re buzzing. This is a real head-nodder, which sounds better every time I play it, especially through headphones!

The album then sets off on a rollercoaster of different styles and tempos. Amongst them are such gems as “If That’s The Case Then I Don’t Know”, a powerful Indie tune guaranteed to get crowds of students swaying and bouncing in a drunken manner across the country.

Following track “Shore Song” is a total shift – light & airy, like The Hours and with some overlap to Brakes as well. “Cold World”, despite its name, is a proper summer tune, with a bouncy piano creating the sunny disposition, while “Misunderstanding” steers the band straight back to their Indie backbone, with a handclap moment and everything.

Further on, “Come Back Inside” is a more complex song that gets you thinking, but at this point this is exactly the right style. All we need next is a track that builds to a crescendo, and “Appropriate Ending” is just that, with echoes of old school Ash mixed in for good measure.

So this is the marker of where Indie is – and should be – in 2007. While mega-bands like Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys are leaning on emotional ballads to win over teenage audiences, real bands like ESP and Brakes are forging ahead with their guitars out front, drums prominently in the middle and melodies that play with the emotions.

Never mind the charts, these bands are the ones who are keeping music on course. They may not be on every playlist, but that’s purely because they aren’t trying to get that sort of approval. In my opinion, if you like your guitar-based music, you need this album.

Simon Middleyard