Electric Soft Parade: IDIOTS album reviews

Here’s some quotes from album reviews (alphabetical order) Please visit the links to read in full. Updated 2nd July Pop Underground, 7th July Rgdinmalaysia, 10th July Do More Mag, 11th July Midlothian Advertiser.

ANDREWSWEENEY.WORDPRESS.COM It’s difficult to think of a demographic who wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy this album. It’s indie enough to appeal to the discerning crowd, has enough pop sensibility for the more mainstream music crowd to love it, their evident Beatles influences should be enough to draw in the classic rock lovers and their intelligent, creative arrangements may even pull in the prog-rock chin-strokers. Although the musical path they tread isn’t particularly ground-breaking in itself, the compositions and arrangements give “Idiots” a very fresh and original flavour.

BRIGHTON MUSIC BLOG The thing that strikes you on first listen is that any of the album’s ten tracks could be singles; not only is Idiots very much a pop album but there isn’t a duff track on it. It’s a classic guitar pop sound that’s been sorely missing from the charts of late… Idiots is a fantastic album. It’s rammed with brilliant, sunny guitar pop tunes, and is a great comeback for the White brothers.

CLASH MUSIC It’s a beautifully sunny, unashamedly melodic tour de force which pitches up somewhere between a fevered Beatles obsession and a well-loved pile of Go-Betweens records. Just as Teenage Fanclub possess the rare knack of sweetening their songs without making them sickly, ESP happily go through the gears every time, throwing out key changes and layered harmonies like they’ve got an expiry date… Some records make you think, some records redefine whole genres. And some, like ‘IDIOTS’, just make you very happy.

DAILY EXPRESS: **** Brighton brothers Thomas and Alex White reconvene their band after a six year break, rejuvenated after gigs celebrating the tenth anniversary of Mercury-nominated debut Holes In The Wall. And they return with a truly sunny disposition. Summertime In My Heart and The Sun Never Sets Around Here highlight their harmonies, almost Beach-Boys like in precision, the quirky Mr Mitchell has a Horace Wimp-like ELO quality to it and the title track jangles like Teenage Fanclub…

DIRECT CURRENT MUSIC Alex and Thomas White are the sibling duo at the creative heart of the ’02 Mercury-prize-nominated The Electric Soft Parade, a Brighton U.K. band that sport their ’60s, ’70s and ’80s pop/rock influences like badges of irony-free honor. Idiots, their fourth longplayer in a just over a decade and first since 2007, is an unpretentious and organic mix of Brit Invasion jangle, New Wave-y energy and modern dream pop, Brian-Wilson harmonies happily riding atop a swoon of melodies that simultaneously recall ELO, Del Amitri, Prefab Sprout and Belle and Sebastian. “We just wanted to pare everything down to its most essential parts,” says brother Alex. “Everything on the record has to be there, and anything that wasn’t needed went”

DO MORE MAG The highlight of the album comes from the single ‘Summertime in my Heart’ which sounds much like The Beach Boys doing a cover of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ by the Beatles. The album was recorded during a heat wave in the South-West and it often shows; the vocal harmonies and stripped back arrangements create an approachable friendliness. I challenge anyone to listen to the album and not smile!

MAIL ON SUNDAY: **** “Now it’s back to work, as if I never left” sing the absurdly talented White brothers, acknowledging a six-year quiet spell. The single, Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone, glides along on a Bacharachian melody; The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore builds to crashing heights; and Never Again provides an elegant closer. I wonder why they’re not more famous.

MIDLOTHIAN ADVERTISER Shot through with glorious Beach Boys-esque harmonies and the psych tinge of the Super Furry Animals, the veteran indie popsters, led by brothers Alex and Thomas White, have made a fine album… Summertime In My Heart is the highlight, almost veering into saccharine territory until a masterful middle eight sends the chorus soaring. This is one for barbecues, parks, country walks, beer gardens and Belle and Sebastian fans. ESP are becoming masters of their craft.

MOJO: Thomas and Alex White spent eight years chasing the commercial success that so often doesn’t follow critical acclaim, eventually grinding to an exhausted halt after 2007’s No Need to Be Downhearted, an album that threw in the kitchen sink as one last desperate-sounding grope for the stars. Six years, several waspish Thomas solo albums and some family tragedies later, they come full circle, returning to work with producers of their debut Holes in The wall – Chris “Tears for fears” Hughes and Mark Frith – and packing their album with classic English guitar pop somewhere between mid-80s XTC and Grand Prix-era Teenage Fanclub. Perfect pitch harmonies and chiming guitars glide through 10 tracks of heartbreaks, make-ups and drunken misadventures disguised as glorious summertime breezes. Re-energised and focused after their sabbatical, it’s an absolutely pleasure to have them back. 4/5

MUDKISS FANZINE Vocally, Thomas and Alex never sounded better, beautiful harmonies flourish and bloom in and amongst subtle musical suggestions towards Big Star, Teenage Fanclub even Prefab Sprout and The Beatles. “Idiots” is an album designed for Summer, an exquisite, heartfelt collection of songs, which even in the more sombre moments has the capacity to uplift. I seriously doubt you’ll hear a more beautiful record all year. The only “Idiots” around here, those who choose to ignore The Electric Soft Parade.

MUSIC OMH Summertime In My Heart marks a particular highlight with a bright, breezy, warm-weather dash that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with their catchiest of tracks… this is pure gold; an effortless encapsulation of the White brothers’ special ingredients.

NORTHANTS TELEGRAPH …the White brothers have thankfully emerged from this lengthy hiatus with their rare ability to conjure free-flowing melodies out of the ether totally intact… The eclectic Brighton duo cite vocal influences as diverse as Freddie Mercury, Robert Wyatt and Chicago as they unveil a beguiling package which often seems to represent a conscious throwback to the innocent charm of sixties pop, with The Sun Never Sets Around Here, Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone and Summertime In My Heart capturing their deceptively tuneful sound at its most seductive.

POP UNDREGROUND Great to hear from these guys again, in an album that really sets itself apart from their previous records. What makes this group so good is the sheer amount of hooks and melodies packed into each song. The songs glide along brilliantly and keep you engaged no matter what. You will be singing parts of these songs over and over again.

RGDINMALAYSIA Now after a number of side projects the White brothers, the core of ESP, have returned with a record that sounds like a cross between The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Housemartins, The Trashcan Sinatras, and newer bands like the Crookes. Shimmery Rickenbacker guitars lend the proceedings a pretty summery feel. Songs are sweet love songs or odes to other pleasant feelings with nice clear harmonies and well crafted wordplay. It sounds like a completely different band most of the time but this is probably their most accessible record so far.

ROCKSUCKER Some used to mock The Electric Soft Parade for declaring themselves to have been influenced by The Boo Radleys, but these people knew not what they were on about; The Boo Radleys were a truly great band and ESP have made a bold play for similarly exalted status with this psych-tinged pop odyssey… IDIOTS is a procession of musical sweet spots from start to finish…

“Idiots” (lower case) is phenomenal stuff; heavenly, Teenage Fanclubby jangle pop that wanders first into a synthy pre-chorus and then into a laterally conceived, SFA/Blur-esque stomp of a chorus. At this juncture, Rocksucker senses confirmation of our suspicion that The Electric Soft Parade are taking on familiar forms so well and with such innate creativity that they are entirely exonerated for their relative disinclination for originality. All of which is a long-winded way of saying “it doesn’t have to sound new when it sounds as good as this”.

THE FOUR OH FIVE ‘The Corner of Highdown and Montefiore’ starts as a low-key acoustic ballad with a melody that kind of recalls the work of Elliott Smith before going into a chorus that is more akin to bands like Radiohead at some of their stronger moments. The Electric Soft Parade even offer their trippy take on the ‘Hey Jude’-style, repetitive-but-in-motion ending which makes the song extremely contemplative.

On the subject of Paul McCartney, songs like ‘Mr. Mitchell’ prove that ESP have been studying the craft of writing catchy pop tunes for some time now and that their work has definitely paid off. The piano-based song that boasts some really great descending harmonies on the chorus is the kind of effort that will always be interesting, and the wonderfully executed meter change near the end is as delightful as it is surprising. The fade out at the end of the track made me realize how little you hear fade outs anymore and suggests that this would be a great song for the radio.

THIS IS FAKE DIY Of course, this is an older and more refined Electric Soft Parade. The spirit of their youth is now complemented by a more measured and nuanced sensibility. The record is full of nods to unabashedly ambitious 70s pop rock bands like ELO, as well as the quaint and jaunty musicality of ‘Sgt Pepper’s’-era The Beatles. This manifests itself in some glorious songs that combine an understated charm with a rich melodic quality.

There is an expanse here that has come with age and experience; ‘The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore’ morphs from a folksy beginning into a grand aching ballad full of yearning guitar solos. You couldn’t imagine them doing this twelve years ago but now it feels just right.

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