In the band’s new self-titled album debut, Morning Parade uses what fans have heard before from other artists — the sentimental verses, the catchy-yet-passionate choruses, the builds — to execute its own songs in a uniquely refreshing yet familiar way.
“Blue Winter” opens the album with a tempo and beat reminiscent of Radiohead’s slinky, grooving “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.” It’s edgy, but there’s also a dazzling and inexplicable mysticism to the song that sets the bar high for the rest of the album. But in this way, “Blue Winter” isn’t the ideal choice for an opening track. Though there’s no doubt the song is compelling, depending on who’s listening, “Blue Winter” acts not only as a tour de force that compels listeners to continue listening but also as a one-trick track that convinces listeners that once they have heard one title from the album, they have heard it all.
The second track, however, dismisses any doubts that “Blue Winter” might have created. An upbeat tribute to the universally acknowledged theme of love, “Headlights” uses the band’s signature hushed, sultry quality — with credit going to vocalist Steve Sparrow and drummer Andy Hayes — to pull at the heartstrings of listeners. “I am all too predictable” is one line that Sparrow sings with such melancholic resignation that it continues to echo long after the song has ended.
“Carousel” stands out with the contrasts it makes between sweeter vocals in the verses and a more powerful and emotionally driven chorus. The chilling lyric “A melody of our own” is sung in a smooth falsetto that adds a touch of musical vulnerability, making “Carousel” one of the more memorable tracks on the album.
But it is with “Running Down the Aisle” that Morning Parade’s album starts to show some weakness. Like many of the songs on the album, “Running Down the Aisle” has depth, especially from the somber notes from the piano and vocals in the foreground. But the lyrics, “Tell them to keep the cameras rolling / To keep the champagne flowing / Going nowhere, going nowhere / Tell them to keep their bed of roses” sound overwhelmingly melodramatic. At least the disjointed frenzy of static, guitars and drums makes for a very edgy breakdown; the bridge also creates an intense build and helps to save this song from slogging down in its subject matter.
The album gets back on track by following “Running Down the Aisle” with two already acclaimed titles, “Us and Ourselves” and “Under the Stars.”
With deep harmonies, “Us and Ourselves” showcases the musical ingenuity of Morning Parade, which comes through as a combination between the musicality of Coldplay and the uncapped intensity of a rock band.
Morning Parade mashes together planetarium and nightclub to create “Under the Stars,” a cosmic kind of melody that makes use of techno beats, crashing cymbals and intermingling voices. It is anthemic but also offers a deeper and more soulful level of musical subtlety.
“Close to Your Heart” is neither one of Morning Parade’s best songs nor one of its worst. It’s a safe track, one that blends seamlessly among the others in the album. Though “Close to Your Heart” embodies the edginess and sentimentality that Morning Parade infuses into most of its songs, the beat, the timing and the harmonies feel predictable and far from original.
Taking a break from the guitar shredding and gruff vocals, “Half Litre Bottle” is a soft and lulling song, with the melodic strums of the guitar accompanying Sparrow, who shows off a sweeter side of his extremely versatile voice. It is poetic, with the dynamic repetition of “Where were the angels that night” carrying through until the end, and promotes a genuine quality synonymous with Oasis’ timeless song “Wonderwall.”
But having exhausted its best material, the album begins to fall flat — with a few exceptions.
“Monday Morning” is a mix between the gloom of “Half Litre Bottle” and the musical and lyrical depth of “Blue Winter.” “Monday Morning” sounds like a song that would play while a person stands miserably in the rain, shivering and alone — full of anguished sorrow. Like “Close to Your Heart,” however, “Monday Morning” runs very predictably, without much ebb and flow to keep the listener fully engaged.
A simple and peaceful track from Morning Parade, “Speechless” is unlike any other song on the album. “Speechless,” which swaps a drum set for a tambourine, perhaps stands as Morning Parade’s hopeful attempt at an indie song. Though pleasant and meaningful, it comes across as a track that falls more along the vanilla lines of The Fray rather than, say, Fleet Foxes.
Concluding the album, “Born Alone” tries to bring the album back full circle by reprising elements used throughout Morning Parade. The lyrics are more intricate, the drums make a return and there is a sense of rejoicing in this final track. Though not particularly memorable, “Born Alone” does end the album on a vigorous note.
With its songs already nearing new heights of popularity, Morning Parade’s new album acts as a launch pad for many more musical successes to come. The band’s ability to go from a lively anthem to something sweet and mellow, all while staying true to its style and music, is a trait that can leave the band’s fans “Speechless.”