The Electric Soft Parade

No Need to be Downhearted

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The Electric Soft Parade began as a psychedelia-infused indie band that blended the post-grunge fuzziness of Silverchair with the troubled dreaminess of post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, and in many respects their third full-length, No Need to be Down-Hearted, shows how little they've changed. "Woken by a Kiss" drifts, "Comfortably Numb"-style, through much of the same kind of reverb-heavy, druggy, fuzzy territory explored on their first album, Holes in the Wall. And "Shore Song/Surfacing," with its Elliott Smith-like lilt, recalls the dreaminess of American Adventure. But this is a far more commercial album than the second album ever hoped to be, and it's probably because No Need is an actual American adventure; it's the band's first U.S. release, and their desire to cater to American fans of handclappy Brit-pop is palpable. "Life in the Backseat" is bobble-headed and radio-ready, all organ wails and full-speed-ahead synth lines yanked from a video game. It's addictive, it's derivative, and it finds the ESP with the confidence and full-tilt momentum that were sorely missing from their previous releases. No Need to be Downhearted pulls the ESP's dreamy paisley-printed indie rock into sharp focus: this is the band at their most focused and most capable. The synth-heavy meanderings of their second album have been roughed up, and the Spacehog-like bounce of Holes has morphed into angular Brit-pop along the lines of Bloc Party or the Kaiser Chiefs. They've given up some of the whimsy and trippiness that marked their first two releases, but they've gained direction.

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