Morning Parade | s/t (Astralwerks/EMI)

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morningparade 75It’s everything you want it to be: beautiful, upbeat, reflective, and rollicking—but in an indie rock sort of way.

 

It’s always fun to get something you didn’t know you liked. I picked this one up because of the description of the music, and found that one of the tracks, “Headlights,” was among the best I’d heard on NME Radio this year. Score!

Morning Parade is Brit pop for the ’10s. It’s everything you want it to be: beautiful, upbeat, reflective, and rollicking—but in an indie rock sort of way. Steve Sparrow’s vocals are heartfelt, strong, slightly scratchy, and smooth-shifting into falsetto when it’s warranted. The Essex-based quintet formed in 2007, signed to Parlophone in 2010, and released their self-titled debut this year.

Disc opener “Blue Winter” should be enough to convince you. After opening with a gritty blast of fuzz, it’s got galloping guitars, moody synthesizers, a steady, fast-paced beat, and even some rapid-fire drums thrown in toward the end. Next up is the aforementioned “Headlights”; one listen and you’ll feel you’ve gone to musical heaven. It’s so gorgeous, so self-assured, a soaring anthem complete with “oh-oh-oh’s” and lines like “’Cause like a rabbit in your headlights/ I am the beckon to your call.”

After the similarly amped up “Carousel,” “Running down the Aisle” reduces the tempo without losing the listener’s interest. The melancholy, reflective lyrics begin with “Remember me, tenderly/ Show me to the bar/ Champagne please, half empty,” with the singer admitting he’s “going nowhere.” A twisting bridge melody keeps itself in check, despite hinting at freedom. You’ll find your toes tapping along with “Us and Ourselves”; somehow, it sets the mood perfectly, makes you want to reach beyond your four walls and do something greater than yourself.

“You know you look so tired/ you’re gonna stay up late tonight under the stars,” Sparrow sings gently to open “Under the Stars,” later continuing, “Been waiting my whole life/ For you to come and waste a while/ Out in the dark/ In the emptiness of time and space.” The way he delivers the words, you feel his yearning, his hope that the streetlights outlast the daylight just a little bit longer. On “Close to Your Heart,” the guitar is straightforward, the beat unrelenting, the piano a taste of home. “Let tonight unfold,” Sparrow sings, “’cause you look so alive.”

“Half Litre Bottle” is a heart-breaking in both music and lyric, a soul-searching tale of watching a brother struggling with addiction. The band keeps things reflective with “Monday Morning,” another slowed-down song. The piano-driven “Speechless” begins with simple keys before blooming into a cacophony of instruments and voice, including a guarded falsetto. When Sparrow sings “Our whole lives are flashing before our eyes,” it isn’t clichéd or tired; rather, you remember what it’s like to be in your early twenties, when every door is open, while knowing each will close behind you as you pass.

Morning Parade opt to slip quietly away with “Born Alone,” a mellow and reflective disc closer, putting the cap on a wholly satisfying listening experience. A | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Longwave, Seabird, Bad Veins

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