While the debut, self-titled album by Morning Parade, the Essex, England five piece, was released quite a while (about 3 months) after its release in the UK, it was probably for the better of their rise to fame in America. The album (iTunes), released the day after the last date of their opening tour with Walk the Moon, came not a minute late, as their single “Headlights” and opening tours for The Kooks and previously mentioned WtM jazzed the audience up for what was to come and prepared them for the intensity of the album as a whole, especially because the energy and passion of their live show is that same energy and passion in their record.
“Blue Winter” starts the album off with a fuzzed up surge, but despite this rawness, the track submerges into perfect full harmony until the purity of lead singer Steve Sparrow’s voice breaks through and demonstrates a solid range, as “blue winter” rings in falsetto and solemn “ahh” resonate deep tones.
For a song that Sparrow thought was just good enough to be a B side, “Headlights” is the perfect representation of the togetherness of Morning Parade. The meaningful lyrics (“Like a rabbit in your headlights/I am the beckon to your call”), the driving drum beat and bass working in unison to keep a high suspension, the vocal synchronization, and the soft and serious bridge before the final climatic verse is the perfect summarization of the bands complete sound.
That complete sound, something that can’t be stressed enough. For such a new band (the complete line up was achieved around early 2010) they have such an experienced sound, almost as if they’ve been playing together for a lot longer than almost 3 years.
Next track, “Carousel” brings a pop-y vibe, with an appropriate to its name round of ahhs and a spinning keyboard base. While “Carousel” is lighter and airier, “Running Down the Aisle” breaks out serious lyrics over a steady piano before building up to a myriad of acoustic guitar, muted drums, and fuzzed up bass in a whirring complexity of instrumental and emotion.
“Us & Ourselves,” my personal favorite, is a shoe in for a second single, and I would be really surprised if it wasn’t. The nostalgia tinged track starts slow and reminiscent, before adding layers of vocals and epic, growing instrumentals, and then throwing a curveball waning into Sparrow’s solo plea “us and ourselves.” The whole song echoes the first segment, the verses provide a soft sense of comfort, while the choruses push it to the next level with full fledge vocals complete with chilling passion. The resolution at the end is the part that brings it full circle and ties it all together, making you say, “what just happened?” in a good way.
This passion continues in “Under the Stars” (another possibility for a single). Sparrow’s voice remains raw and effortless, but a faster tempo creates an atmosphere acceptable for intense rocking out. Having previous knowledge that Muse is one of their influences, I can almost hear it in this track.
“Close to Your Heart,” chanting, “Let tonight unfold/I can see you running out of cares tonight/The weight of the world and the weight of the everything” over a steady, running beat makes you want to dance your cares away.
In great contrast, “Half Litre Bottle” is an absolutely beautiful intervention/plea/soul search kept simple. Sparrow’s tender vocals over a solitary guitar set a really personal and touching tone. If you don’t get chills or emotional after listening to the lyrics, you might want to check that your heart isn’t frozen. I want to say more, but all I can say is that it’s almost painfully open and real, and so beautiful.
“Monday Morning” and “Speechless” further demonstrate the togetherness of the band and are completely relatable to the audience. “Hello Monday Morning, try and talk your way out of this one,” is like an extreme case of the Mondays, while the metaphors in “Speechless” intensify the moments that life passes by without a word.
Another beautiful and personal track “Born Alone” is the perfect way to end the album, both in sound and message. Everything in the song is about overcoming something holding you back, letting go of fear, and accepting who you are and that you are not alone. And in a kind of cheesy way, Morning Parade is representative of that. They’re overcoming the music industry with a sound all their own, and they’re doing it with a passion and love for their music and each other. (Another indication of togetherness is that they all have matching MP tattoos on their arms).
This is one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in a long time. It’s such a captivating listen, every track has something that sticks out about it, and their sound as a whole is a perfect unity. Having seen them on two opening tours, I’m awaiting their US headline, and awaiting a lot more from them. If you’re going to listen to one album the second half of the year, I strongly recommend this one. Something tells me they’re going to be big.