Electric Soft Parade: The Human Body EP (U.K.) reviews

Reviews in alphabetical order by: Absolute Powerpop, Artrocker, Comfort Comes, Filter Mini, Indecisive Design, Jambase Rhapsody, Myself Myself Myself, Myspace (?) NME, Powerpopaholic, Rating Freak, Skinny Mag, Sweeping The Nation, Sylvio Furtado Blog, The Stereo Effect, The Sunday Times, Tiny Idols and a fan review by Ian Chambers.

Truck Records: The brothers White return to sparkling form with the release of a new 6 track EP. In a continuation of the back-to-basics approach the band adopted on their second LP, The Human Body EP was recorded at Brighton’s Metway studios in just six days, with artwork again designed by the band. The resulting EP finds the band at a perfect middle-point between the guitar-pop rush of their first album and the studied, symphonic arrangements of their second. With more than enough ideas for a 3rd full-length LP in the new year, this is a taster of great things to come from Brighton’s favourite psychedelic sons!!

The Human Body EP was released on 5.12.05. You could hear it on the XFM evening playlist, may have heard it on Huw Stephens’ Radio One show or may have noticed nice reviews in the papers. NME said that the EP is “Monu-mental”. Where as the Sunday Times says that there is “…complexity and beauty in evidence here” and goes on to describe the release as laudable (read the reviews below)

Absolute Powerpop Just in is the latest release from a band that had an impressive debut as any I’ve heard back in 2002 with Holes In The Wall. I’m talking about the UK’s The Electric Soft Parade… ESP have the ability to sound like a number of different bands; at times they have a more 60s-70s Beatlesque sound; and at others they have a more modern Teenage Fanclub/Blur/Oasis sound. Highlights on the EP include “Cold World” and “Stupid Mistake”.

Artrocker Magazine by Jonathon Falcone

When a form of music is ‘post’ something, what does that mean? I’ve heard Simon Raymonde first used the term to describe a clutch of bands in the early Nineties. More commonly it refers to a series of groups in the Eighties who played within the punk circuit, but warped the music with different influences. If the benchmark is Gang Of Four, it’s evident that they loved Disco as much as the Buzzcocks, the BBC Radio-phonic workshop as well as the Pistols.

So why is ‘post-punk’ now a buzz-term for the bands the NME chooses to pedal? A generation of boys who grew up amongst Brit-Pop, then looked backwards in revolt as the industry’s Chief Executive baton was passed from those reared in the Sixties and Seventies to those who were impressionable in the Eighties.

So what the point is; is this, Battle, The Rakes, Maximo Park etc are not ‘post’ anything, they’re not progressive in the same fashion as those bands who changed the conventions. They’re replicants, comforters of the industry workforce. The Electric Soft Parade are ‘post’ and they’re doing something different, as this EP blindingly proves. From the QOTSA meets Gorecki in ‘Kick In The Teeth’ a song as guttural as it is symphonic, through to the acoustic John Barry-esque score ‘Everybody Wants’ this is a yearning release that can walk the timeline throughout musical styles and history, and still come out with a brand new I-Pod and ‘The Ultimate Scratch’.

Whilst it’s easy to overlook them for their major label history, they’re now on the impeccable Truck Records and they’re stronger, more interesting and certainly more vital than ever. This six song EP throws more ideas into one cohesive body of work than the ‘rock revolution’ has done in the last five years. Don’t believe me?

Comfort Comes: It’s great to have the boys back. They always had a certain something to their music that set them apart. This EP is ambitious, daring and simply great from start to finish. They have done it again and let’s hope they keep on doing it.

Filter Mini: another review by by Jonathon Falcone click for scan

Indecisive Design: No.8 out of 30 2005 releases – “The fact that this isn’t a proper album, and only six songs long, is the reason it’s not up higher. As this is yet more great stuff from the masterful brothers White. They should be a huge band, and it is a cruel record industry they exist in. But their time will come, and this shows that they still have what it takes if only somebody would give them the chance”

Jambase Rhapsody ESP create inspired, sometimes wacky and always engaging noisy pop. The downright addictive “A Beating Heart” employs a single steady beat to pace meditative, mantra-like vocals; “Cold World” oozes McCartney with its rollicking, pop-propelled piano; and “Stupid Mistake” pulses with the same dreamy droning as Swervedriver.

Myself Myself Myself: …After a bit of silence, they reappear as part of hot new Brit band “Brakes.” Brakes album gets big and suddenly I’m wondering if we’ll ever get another shot from the brothers White. No sooner do I think this than a new EP appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and re-establishes the boys at the fore of my musical memory. The Human Body EP is splendid, well-crafted, a bit scattered, and totally gorgeous, sonically speaking. I’ve posted “Cold World” here, as it is the catchiest thing I’ve heard in ages…

I’m also posting a track from their first album, “Silent To The Dark.” I defy you not to listen to all 9, (yes, NINE), minutes of this song. It is simply breathtaking, and it illustrates perfectly why everyone was so buzzed about them a few years back. With a new record label and an album in the works, it looks like we’ve not heard the last of ESP and good thing. Their latest effort proves they’ve not lost their knack for quietly assuring us that well-crafted pop music is in good hands, at least across the pond, anyway. Cheers.

Myspace review by Stephen Brolan (may be from somewhere else)

Fresh from their foray as two quarters of the stupendous Brakes, the brothers White once more march their Electric Soft Parade through what has become a drab and deserted world in their absence. Bursting with more ideas and invention than most manage in an entire album, The Human Body’s mere six tracks proves that time really is the ultimate sculptor, the intervening absence seeming to have conjured ESP’s best work to date. Most notably, Cold World skips along like a Paul McCartney-penned Strokes track (better than it sounds); and Everybody Wants, a sweeping epic of a song that punctuates this band’s enduring ambition. Anatomically, The Human Body is like a perfectly formed embryonic soul foretelling the coming of ESP’s prodigal son. Extra-Sensory Perfection. (9/10)

NME: “Wonk-pop wonders relax into cultdom”. Like a Slimfast, Magic Numbers or a teetotal Towers Of London, ESP were too skewed for the mainstream. While ostensibly a bedroom post-Britpop outfit, they dealt in skewiff melody lines that made them a gangly figure on 2001’s Strokesian catwalk. So here they are exorcising their orchestral pop wobbleness on this Truck records six-tracker, and a mighty fist they make of the opportunity too: “A Beating Heart” rocks like the Birmingham Philarmonic playing in Elbow’s outside lavvy, “Cold World” is an ace Ben Foldsian plink-fest and the ghost of a big pop Spiritualized casts a spectral pall across the rest. Monu-mental. MB.

Powerpopaholic: Being in a pyschedelic mood after listening to The Flaming Lips, I was told about this little gem. This 6 song EP has got lots of great riffs and wavers between the bands, The Beta Band and Coldplay mixed with a bit of Todd Rundgren. It was all too short and my favorite song “Cold World” has a bouncy feel of some classic pop song before it ventures in “Beta” land.

Rating Freak on Cold World: This is what happy Brit Pop should sound like. Everybody Wants: A beautiful symphonic track … a rare successful combination of Independent Rock and Symphonic Prog.

Skinny Mag: (Cabaret Voltaire review) …tracks from the just-released Human Body EP don’t disappoint. Four out of the six new tracks are so instantly likeable they could easily be first-release singles. “This is Jo Whiley’s favourite” Tom proclaims of Cold World, a Beatles/Strokes hybrid of the utmost beauty, while Everybody Wants is the best Bond theme ever.

Sweeping The Nation (scroll down) Blimey, the Electric Soft Parade are still going. As far as we can tell Tom White’s spent the last two or three years attempting to record with every single musician in Brighton, on top of his and Alex’s sterling Brakes work but the parent band is signed to the estimable Truck Records. Cold World comes from the recent The Human Body EP and sounds nothing like the Britpop-manque of their brief chart flowering. Think Skylarking-era XTC, Paul McCartney’s early solo stuff, Ben Folds and the sort of thing that, again, would normally be all over radio if daytime radio sounded like this any more.

Sylvio Furtado Blog EP Review.

If there’s a band my heart beats very fast with happiness and joy, that must be The Electric Soft Parade (ok, there are others, but I love it)…

Once the next best thing when they released Holes In The Wall (one of the best debut albums ever), second album didn’t have the stuff reviewers like to listen, and then ESP was dropped by its record company and I almost thought they had split… The White brothers formed another band, Brakes, but it wasn’t the same thing as listening to This Given Line or Bruxellisation…

But then, out of nowhere, a release! 6 new songs in EP format with the magical name attached, The Electric Soft Parade! I’m just listening to it over and over again and I can guarantee they are back in top form… Everything that was beautiful in Holes In The Wall and everything that was rock and progressive in The American Adventure is back in perfect mix, with great production value, greatly executed and repeatedly listened by this avid fan…

My favorite track for now is Cold World, but all songs are really nice and remind me of this very special time in my life it was when I first listened to Empty At The End (2001) to the moment I listened to Holes In The Wall in full (middle 2002)… I just can´t have it back, but don’t need it, because they are back playing something for 2006! My life is almost complete again!

More from Sylvio Furtado Blog on Cold World:

One of my favorite british bands had a perfect debut album released in 2002, and a very strange sophomore effort in 2003 that pratically throwed them into obscurity. For my felicity in the dawning lights of 2005 they’ve released an independent EP called “The Human Body EP”, with 6 stupendous tracks. One of them is this perfect moment of pop, with great everything (lyrics, production, vocals, intruments…). I can’t stop listening to it, and maybe it will be up the charts in the next months! And is the perfect song for listening while driving, as I sing-a-long very loudly, and people looks at me from outside and laugh, I love this moments. God, I hope Electric Soft Parade release an album full of this quality stuff!!!

Favorite moment: 0:37, when the White brother (never know which one is singing) puts the chorus for the first time. He doesn’t change the pitch or the melody. His voice is so smooth, and what he’s singing has lots of meaning for me.

Favorite lyric: “And in the middle of the night you’ll worry about it, and it’ll never go away, You understand it all and that is way much more, than you should ever have known, I will wait I will hope and pray that you’ll be there” – Could there be something better? Gorgeous!

The Stereo Effect: …they’re back, they’re on an indie label and they seem far more comfortable, the true ‘mad scientist’ nature of their music coming to the fore. As a five track EP, like all their releases, there’s a restlessness of style but there’s also great coherency. “A Beating Heart” opens with orchestral dynamics, a descent into a musical world of glorious madness, the opener flitting from one style to another mid-song, under-played, subtle, song writing becoming synth stabs and thrash guitar without warning.

The production throughout is crystalline clear, and there’s some real chart material here, the second song, “Cold World” shines with all the doe-eyed romance of the Strokes at their heart-string tugging best, smeared with a healthy dose of Ben Folds harmonies that leaves most of today’s indie market a vapid, ashen series of unmelodic drones with spiky guitars in comparison.

“Everybody Wants” is the almost-to-be-expected epic number on this release, a song that escalates throughout, it’s comparable to John Barry’s orchestral arrangements for the Bond films, it’s expansive and engulfing in the depth of sound portrayed and cinematic, or even theatrical, nature of the arrangements.

The Electric Soft Parade have always struck me as a band who view their music as a series of compositions, or arrangements, more than ‘songs.’ Everything sounds impeccable, nothing musically remains stagnant or is allowed to become complacent and there’s an over-riding edginess here, a frustration with music period and an evident desire to try and achieve as much as possible. So it’s impressive that a band can do this so well when the yard-stick is held so high, which leaves this as one of the finest releases to come out this year.

The Sunday Times: ESP seem untroubled by the experience of spiralling from Mercury-nominated debutants in 2002 to major-label castoffs last year. The Brighton siblings knocked off this mini-album in just a week: laudable if the (six) songs were middling, but amazing given the complexity and beauty in evidence here – and a real indictment of the bloated studio budgets and artistic sprawl that produce the curate’s eggs that clog the charts. Songwriters, necessarily perhaps, are prone to self-doubt, but surely writing something as perfect as the early-McCartney-like Cold World causes the opposite feeling: “There. Nailed it.” And they have.

Tiny Idols (scroll down) On Cold World: Download this now. Electric Soft Parade is a great, underrated band from England who were supposed to be hot way back in 2002 but ended up drifting into the same no-man’s land populated by the likes of Gay Dad and Starsailor. Like all good underdogs though, ESP is bouncing back with a new album to be released in May on Better Looking (U.S. Human Body EP)

Fan review by Ian Chambers

Bad experiences with major record labels are never good for bands and can prove to be even worse if you happen to be a talented, creative and enthusiastic young band such as the Electric Soft Parade who were picked up and promptly dropped by their label in 2003. For many bands this would be game over and they’d go their separate ways, which just goes to show that Tom and Alex White (the brothers who form the core of Electric Soft Parade) are made of much tougher stuff than most and is why two years on from parting company with BMG records, brings us nicely to this, the release of The Human Body EP.

Aside from the odd live performance in their native city of Brighton, all has been pretty quiet in Soft Parade world since the release of their previous album ‘The American Adventure’ in 2003. Despite this, Tom and Alex have been busy fellows, reportedly having written well over 100 new songs and recently signing to Oxfords small independent Indie record label Truck.

But what about the new EP I hear you say? Well, if you were a fan of their previous two albums then there’s no doubt you are sure to find a place in your heart for this new recording, with it being the perfect middle point between ‘Holes in the Wall’ and ‘The American Adventure’ and proving that the boys have matured impressively in sound and song writing since we last heard from them. And yes, that’s a very good thing indeed.

Listening to standout track ‘Cold World’ it would be difficult to tell it was an Electric Soft Parade song at all if you didn’t already know. It skips along nicely in a Paul McCartney like fashion with a bouncing piano line and some chiming guitars that are somewhat reminiscent of The Strokes. Don’t let these comparisons put you off though, as this is a truly brilliant track that will be going around your head for days on end after a few listens. Easily one of the best things the band has written.

‘Stupid Mistake’ is the tune here that’s probably most similar to their older guitar rock material and which features some beautiful lyrics such as “I could be loving you now / I could be doing it with my eyes closed / You could be back on your feet / But that isn’t how the song goes”. It’s classic sounding Soft Parade stuff but with an added influence here and there of Guided By Voices for good measure.

The spirit of the late Elliott Smith is hovering around on the touching acoustic number ‘So Much Love’, while the sweeping seven minute epic ‘Everybody Wants’ features some big orchestration and psychedelic effects that Jason Pearce of Spiritualized would be mighty proud of. It’s part ‘Silent to the Dark’ and part ‘American Adventure’ and goes to show yet again that the Electric Soft Parade have more invention and creativity in their little fingers than the majority of today’s popular guitar bands could ever hope for. Lyrically the brothers have clearly progressed to writing some beautiful words while at the same time Tom White’s voice has matured and sounds better than ever.

All in all it’s great to have them back again, so sit back and enjoy the wonders of this EP while you wait for the new full length album some time next year. One thing for sure is that Truck records have picked up a gem. 9/10.