It hasn’t sunk in yet; that the ESP returned. Before they did, I hoped it would be with an EP, as with The Human Body in years gone by. My dreams eventually came true as I knew they would. The term ‘indefinite hiatus’ was once attributed to them, I think on their Wikipedia, I don’t know who wrote that, maybe the band themselves.
I can’t say “frustratingly there are no reviews” because with The Electric Soft Parade, that often means a 50/50 split of positive/negative on the same page (yes, I’ve read them all) Although an acquired taste for some, once mastered, there are many delights to discover. Update: a brilliant French review linked below.
To enjoy this EP you don’t need to spend a penny, it’s streaming around the internet i.e. Soundcloud, Official FM and Spotify to name a few. It’s so good to see their new material out there this time on download/vinyl since CD’s are all but dead. More info on how to buy the EP here: A Quick One
So they’ve returned and although that’s exciting in itself, they’ve brought with them the much missed Melancholy to soothe and surround you. Thomas White has released three albums since they disappeared into the ether; I Dream Of Black (Drift) The Maximalist (Cooking Vinyl) and Yalla! (Youtube) but all that time has slipped away as if No Need To Be Downhearted was only yesterday…
They have a re-ignited passion for what they do; something you can’t fake. They mean it now as much as they did in the early days, they have that same hunger for creating something new. All they’re asking of you is one simple question; will you fall in love with them all over again? Will you? Or, would you at least Like them?
This is the bit where I get to play the LILY video on repeat…
For all intents and purposes, they could be young men in an obscure cult band (forgetting their early success) These days that is exactly what they are. They belong to the fans, there’s no gloss, no over-production for mass consumption. There’s just honesty.
The Lyrics and music fit seamlessly on Lily; it’s the kind of song that given airplay, would win people’s hearts. Maybe that will happen in future after the new album’s released. The song is a heartfelt plea; “penned late last year by Thomas, a tale of hope and exasperation”
At the time of writing there is no further comment about the lyrics so it’s up to the listener to discover their own meaning. Thomas details his intrigue with a girl – or is it a boy – “you’ve an itch that you just can’t scratch, a body and life that don’t match” (intriguing) The tale is told to an uplifting musical backdrop as if the song alone could rescue Lily from despair.
Lily, you’ve an itch that you just can’t scratch
A body and life that don’t match
I’ve no mind where you’re bound
Lily, what’s the use in pretending
As if our lives are ending
I just pray you’ll be sound
So take yourself to the nearest doctor
Give it up ‘cos you know he don’t want you
Do it sensibly as hard as it may seem
Give it up ‘cos you know you’re a gonner
Lily how the hell d’you do it this time
Took the rules and bent them out of line
You’re out of your mind
Lily, I’ve advice that you should heed now
On why’s and where’s and who’s and how’s
And when you come down
Take yourself to the nearest doctor
Only he’ll be the one who can help you
Do it right away and start another day
That is all I’ll say
Beautifully confident vocals with a guitar line to match. The video as captivating as the song itself… monochrome with snatches of colour just as the Lyrics give slight hints of hope.
There’s a nice French review up and I’m inspired to get stuck into writing about first hearing If I Can Dream back in the 80’s, in the living room with my Dad, both of us staring in awe at the screen as I discovered the best song of my life. The passion in his voice as he sang like his life depended on every word. Jump forward so many years to today… ESP’s cover has that exact same feeling – revamped as Beatles heavy rock – originally from the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special but what a song to come back with, for both of them. ESP covering this song isn’t something I’d ever have dared dream about.
With their own music, ESP have a talent for good, oldfashioned songwriting. They’ve always seemed older than their years. Maybe because they were brought up on music from a different time. I’ve never heard this song covered before and I need never hear another cover again because nothing could top this. My favourite band covered my favourite song, what more could I ask for.
More than that, I’ve missed Alex, on vocals at least (he belongs to the TW solo project but here, he’s center stage) His fast footsteps in the video remind me of John Lennon walking through Central Park (and his message; Imagine all the people, living life in peace) There’s a sense of hopeful urgency.
When Elvis sang it, there was desperation in his voice. You can’t say the message is naive because you want to believe it – you have to. Even if change doesn’t happen in our lifetimes. Maybe after we’re gone the day will come when all human beings can live without fear. Maybe that place is where we all go one day. It’s probably true but while we’re here we need something to hold onto.
His vocal is more matter-of-fact than Elvis because it’s 40 years later than the original; shouldn’t we have change by now. Instead of some countries refusing blindly to support basic human rights (hard to believe that includes Europe) Elvis knew the subject matter more than anyone, he knew about the prejudice towards a white boy daring to sing the blues
I couldn’t write about this song without reliving many emotions but it’s a link to my past when I really needed to hear Lyrics like this; music is always there for you and reminds you you’re not alone. There’s so much power in this song and a message more relevant now than ever.
There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
Got to be birds flying higher in the sky more blue
If I can dream of a better land
Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
Tell me why can’t my dream come true?
There must be peace and understanding sometime
Strong winds are promised that’ll blow away the doubt and fear
If I can dream of a warmer sun
Where hope keeps shining on everyone
Tell me why won’t that sun appear?
We’re lost in a cloud with too much rain
We’re trapped in a world that’s troubled with pain
But as long as a man has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly
Deep in my heart there’s a trembling question
Soon I am sure that the answer’s going to come somehow
Out there in the dark there’s a beckoning candle
While I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream come true
I can only dream that I could have discovered Elvis through hearing this song; imagine how mindblowing that would be…
Often Thomas takes on more of the promotion duties (i.e. radio interviews) but whenever an ESP interview’s announced and Alex isn’t there, my heart drops because to me, ESP is both of them equally.
Alex has another song on the EP; Number One. The press info states; Alex’s Chicago-esque piano stomp – sets banal self-help-book lyrics to the simplest, most economic melody, and of course, chord changes to die for.
Thomas joins on vocals towards the end and the song builds to a crescendo. It’s a tale of independence; wanting to do things your own way and how hard it can be to carry on. It’s the story of ESP; they’ve never had it easy, they’ve worked hard to prove their credentials time and time again. But keep going they have – the Brothers White are most definitely back, there’s no missing that orchestration…
Did you hear the noise they made
Coming in loud and out of fate
I forget it’s been a year
I wake up and it’s August here
Keep moving, keep trying – why
Everything seems to pass me by
Yes I am aware that you make it wrong
But how can you move what’s made of stone
You can’t go on letting it slide
It isn’t good enough to try
Nobody listens to you then
It only matters how it ends
I’m going out and coming home
I never wanted to be shown
I want to find it by myself
Why don’t you just go somewhere else
Do you have the time these days
To think of things that go to waste
Stiff upper lip and soldier on
Cliches ringing like the sound of beats on a distant drum
Keep living, keep plugging away
So much left to begin to say
Half finished thoughts and moments lost
How many times can you say because
I’m getting tired… Oooooh!
Thomas multi-tracks himself into a barbershop choir on the Van Dyke Parks cover Orange Crate Art, creating a work of beauty with vocals alone; “recorded at home for a laugh, it immediately sounded too good to keep secret”. Often his work has a hint of the choral about it but you haven’t heard anything like this before…
If you have a minute or two please write a few words on the new EP and spread the word on your Blog/Facebook/Twitter etc. You can also share this Blog but I’d love to read your thoughts too…