No Need to Be Downhearted Import
Their highly-anticipated full-length is epic and adventurous while retaining its pop shimmer. It follows their 2002 debut "Holes In The Wall", the 2003 release of "The American Adventure", and "The Human Body" EP, the latter of which was a perfect mid-point between their previous efforts and a teaser of greater things to come. With this new record they're at it again, this time as space-age power-balladeers and digital terrorist rockers.
Thomas and Alex Wright, the brothers who formed Electric Soft Parade are unmistakably fond of guitars and keyboards braiding melodies in crafty twists, as they do throughout No Need to be Downhearted. Acoustic guitars, bells, and keys open "Shore Song Surfacing," while the brothers harmonize languorously, capturing a mix of pop and art not unlike the Beta Band and Super Furry Animals. Melodies emerge from shadows throughout Downhearted, from the plugged-in, clipped-riffs of "Life in the Backseat" to the lo-fi acoustic latticework of "Secrets," which sports this beaten-down lyric: "Keep your feelings well hid / They'll only get trodden on." Perhaps the subtle emergence of tunes is super-intentional, meant to mirror the band's lyrical fixation on isolation and alienation ("I wanna get rid of this feeling / I wanna be a part of everything / Like the way it all should be," goes the opening of "Cold World Starry Nite #1"). With the band's expert harmonies and crisp, economical use of guitar distortion along with keyboards, the cumulative impact is otherwise delightful, leading to head nods even while the Wrights sing from the fringes, from which theyre trying to step forward. --Andrew Bartlett
Living In The Backseat sets the tone for the rest of album. This band really sets themselves apart from the pack because they have amazing songwriting ability. Only a couple of the tracks sound like processed manufactured pop, the rest of the album is a surprise, a burst of sunshine in a mostly dull music year. If I had to compare the band to anyone, it would be Electric Light Orchestra. I'd guess they're a pretty big influence for ESP, particularly tracks like "Mr. Blue Sky"
but if you're a fan of dreamy, bouncy, psychadelic brit pop, you will LOVE this album. From the dreamy "Woken By A Kiss" to the spacey "If That's The Case, Then I Don't Know" this is maybe the album of the year thus far.
They have crafted a lush and melody heavy pop record. Fantastically instrumented and played. It even takes a few turns into ambient noise pop. But really it's just another in a growing line of stubborn indie bands looking at pop music and saying "I can do better than that!" And then "GASP!" actually delivering. Get it, enjoy it. Your girlfriend will love it.