With their third full-length release, No Need To Be Downhearted, indietronic brothers Alex and Tom White, otherwise known as The Electric Soft Parade, have ventured further into the lappop genre than in their previous LP’s, Holes in the Wall (2002) and The American Adventure (2003).
Their deeper shift into this maturing field of music creates a pleasant overall sound, but it also leaves the record relatively uninteresting. Relying less on guitars and drums than on keys and distortion, the White brothers effectively have created some nice background music.
The best tracks on No Need can mostly be found early on in the record. Best is probably the uplifting fuzziness of “Woken by a Kiss”, along with the more spacious computer-like distortion of the following “If That’s the Case, Then I Don’t Know” (the record’s latest single). Both flow nicely and melodically, but don’t quite have enough substance. Lesser versions of this sound can be found in the record’s second half, with the not-as-uplifting-as-it-wants-to-be “Have You Ever Felt Like It’s Too Late?” and the unremarkable “Appropriate Ending”.
No Need To Be Downhearted opens up with the ‘piano man’-like crooning of “No Need To Be Downhearted (Part 1)”, which is pretty, especially when it gets bigger halfway through. Latter ‘piano man’ tracks include “Cold World” and “No Need To Be Downhearted (Part 2)”, but both are boring numbers that also stop with about a minute, minute-and-a-half left to run, and then inexplicably turn into entirely different music. Meanwhile, the sixties-inspired dream-pop of “Shore Song” and “Misunderstanding” are weighed down by unnecessary faux-psychedelica, especially the former. The only track that really retains the indietronic-rock of their prior releases is the record’s pre-release single, “Life in the Backseat”. But the only song with real heft is “Secrets”, a slow and sad number that has the feel of echoes in an empty room.
A new direction for The Electric Soft Parade did not come as a great surprise, as they’d already heralded their new indietronic point-of-view with last year’s The Human Body EP. But whereas that record had some impressive power and substance, No Need To Be Downhearted comes off as feeling pretty, but thin.
MP3 Stream: “Woken By a Kiss”