Mice Parade – What it means to be left-handed
Listen to this album while you read the review!
The Skinny : A tropical paradise in PostRocklandia.
The Review Proper: He’s got Doug Scharin (from Codeine) as a drummer and Caroline Lufkin and Meredith Goudreau doing guest vocals. What are you waiting to click that Spotify link?
Adam Pierce (Mice Parade is an anagram of his name = instageek karma) is one strange guy. Not knowing him personally, I deduce this from his musical oevreu. I’m like that.
In his latest offering, the very off-kilter What it means to be left-handed, he continues to do his usual odd-time signature hijinks with quite a roster of people. But enough gushing and let’s go for an easy target: the opening song. ‘Kupanda’ is not for me. It bodes badly if the first song of the album doesn’t hook you straight away.
So, anyways, after ‘Kupanda’ not doing it for me, ‘In between times’ comes ’round to wipe the slate clean. There is something about the very high pitched female voice in this piece that could be detrimental to the good of the track, but it doesn’t. It could be grating if it stayed all the time like that, but it changes into a dreamy whisper. The drone-like ending is just plain gorgeous and it slowly fades into a very introspective atmosphere. Pretty cool song.
Voice duties are interchangeable in the subtropical backlot of Mice Parade. ‘Couches & Carpets’ really exploits this dynamic and it really works best. And what the hell is the drummer doing? I love it when the drummer disregards any sense of rhythm and just does his thing. Again, ‘Couches & Carpets’ is his moment to shine. His unorthodox drumming approach is perfectly paired with the jangly guitar. The feedback guitar in the very bottom of the mix is great. More drumming fun is had in ‘Fortune of folly’. Seriously, let this guy do his stuff. Give him a side project. Anything.
Again, navelgazing, sorry. So far, the best way to describe Mice Parade is to say that they are a very sunshiney band. The musical feels a little tropical, but with enough playful guitars and whispered voices to make it beautiful. And then I passed the third track mark and realised something. Mice Parade does go into little jams from time to time. This is important, as the songs can sound a little samey from time to time (had a hard time telling them apart the first time) but the jams are always different and, frankly, they are a welcomed noisy break. Specially in the first third of the album.
Fine, more like jams, they are minibreaks. Whereas the one in ‘Couches & Carpets’ is an all-out rocker, the one in ‘Recover’ is very sweet, kinda of like getting a nice warm hug in a cold, stark day (yes, today). This is not a review. It’s a confessional. And a tribute to Mr. Scharin’s drumming goodness. Or it could be jack of all trades Adam Pierce doing the stuff too. I’m too distracted with ‘Old hat’ , with that cracking intro arpeggio that drones for all the song. In a way, it’s the spiritual (and musical) brother of the break in ‘Recover’. It might be a leitmotif or just a reusing of a rather excellent idea. Whatever the case, I dig this.
Top songs? ‘Old hat’, ‘Recover’, ‘Couches & Carpets’. I might consider skipping ‘Kupanda’, but there is a lot of variation in the last two thirds (specially the last few tracks) of What it means to be left handed to make up for any sameness of the beginning.
Album closer ‘Mary Anne’ somewhat makes me think of the mid 90s. It works wonders as the end of What it means to be left handed, as it would drag the pace somewhere else. It’s like the chill down period needed after doing a heavy cardio exercise (which you probably got from the frantic, happy beginning).
In a nutshell: experimental (might namedrop Annuals here, even if comparing is something I rarely do). Bad opening track, excellent stuff afterwards. I can live with that.