Confession: I associate Essex’s Morning Parade with all things awesome because they were the second support band the first time I saw The Wombats. Based on their great performance that night (think low-key but polished), I bought their eponymous debut release. That album has a cool mid-90s alt flavor to it, but it also had some tunes that bordered on ballad and seemed kind of overwrought.
With their new EP Alienation, the boys open up a lot harder. “Shake the Cage” has lots of distorted and driving guitars and omnipresent synth. The quintet sounds much more like a rock band here, with the synths adding that futuristic flare. I can’t wait to shout along with the “Shake the cage” chorus when I see these guys in February; that part’s irresistible and easy to memorize.
“Alienation,” the title track here, continues to give the synths and keys a prominent role. It also reminds me most of the material on Morning’s Last album, but it resists getting too earnest. That said, it’s probably my least favorite because it’s the most ballad-y and I know how fun these guys are when they’re more uptempo and irreverent.
The third offering, “Reality Dream,” has a great beat throughout and could easily be remixed for the dance floor. I’m curious to see how this translates live, as the production sounds pretty involved. There’s either a cool vocal effect going on there, or the band’s really stepped up on their backing vocal game. Cool U2ish guitar solo around 2:30 too; it’s not overdone, and that’s a big requirement with me and guitar solos.
The biggest winner for me, despite its odd lyrics and off-putting title, is “Culture Vulture.” The phrasing is extremely catchy with rhymes and breaks in all the right places. Upon listening, you’re waiting for the song to get somewhere–because it certainly sounds like it’s building–but it keeps you waiting for a crescendo that doesn’t really arrive until 2:45. Shortly thereafter, the song ends quite abruptly, but it’s fitting and leave you going, “huh!”
As mentioned, I’d very excited to see these guys again when they come to town in February. They’re a band worth watching but they’re painfully under-apprecitated here in the U.S.