ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE – No Need To Be Downhearted (Truck)

Electric Soft Parade’s first two album are among my all-time favourites, and so any new release by the band is eagerly awaited. All the more surprising then, that this album sneaked out without my knowing about it until I saw a review in NME. Not a particularly good review, either, and so I bought it with some reservations. I am afraid that the opening title track did little to allay my fears, but when ‘Life In The Backseat’ kicked in my worries faded away. Featuring one of their effortlessly catchy tunes and a punchy production, it is a welcome return of the band I love. ‘Woken By A Kiss’ is slightly less successful, although I would hesitate to condemn it as ‘indulgent old-prog’ as the NME did. It is back to the good stuff for ‘If That’s The Case, Then I Don’t Know’, with its descending guitar riff and catchy tune, it harks back to their classic debut. The acoustic ‘Shore Song’ slows down the pace perfectly before seguing into the New Age-y ‘Surfacing’. ‘Secrets’ is a lovely slowie, starting out with just picked guitar and voice, and building up with the addition of extra vocals as the song progresses. The addition of an orchestra for the finale does bring to mind Spiritualized, but in the end it is ESP at their best. ‘Cold World’ made its first appearance on their ‘Human Body EP’ and I loved its poppy commercial edge then as I do now. ‘Come Back Inside’s surf guitar and moody atmospherics give it a filmic quality, and ‘Appropriate Ending’ is just that – a typically bouncy ESP song to close the album (apart from a reprise of the title track). So was I disappointed? No, not really. I realise that it is unlikely that they will ever hit the heights of their debut again, but the brothers are still writing great, catchy - dare I say it - ‘pop’ songs, and while they carry on doing that I can’t really ask for much more.