After a three-year hiatus, Eleventh Dream Day is back with another solid album, Stalled Parade, with a slightly broader sonic palette than its predecessor, Eighth. Don't worry, Rick Rizzo's overdriven guitars are still generally set for stun, but you can hear a little more in the way of acoustic guitars throughout the record, and Janet Beveridge Bean steps up to sing lead vocals on a few tracks. One of these, "Valrico74," strongly evokes "Cloak of Frogs" from Freakwater's End time, but Rizzo's atmospheric guitar plonking and John McEntire's understated keyboards give it a flavor all its own. The way this slow, haunting track gives way to the out and out Crazy Horse-isms of "In the Style Of...." is indicative of the effective pacing of Stalled Parade overall, eliciting a wide range of moods and tempos from track to track. The ethereal backing vocals and dream pop leanings of "Stalled Parade" quickly give way to the insistent post-punk of "Ice Storm," then to the brief abstract experimentalism of "On Ramp," and so on.
A well-sequenced album is one thing, but Eleventh Dream Day really shines when they just rock out. "Interstate" is a case in point, with its catchy boy/girl chorus, and "In the Style Of ..." and "Way Too Early" give Rizzo a chance to flex his Neil Young guitar muscles. Bean and bass player Douglas McCombs are a tight rhythm section, and McCombs's bandmate from Tortoise, John McEntire, adds just the right touch on keyboards on several tracks, "Bite the Hand" in particular. With the success of the band members' other projects (Freakwater, Tortoise, Brokeback), and the fact that Eleventh Dream Day is no longer a touring band, it's a shame logistics conspire to keep them from making albums more often.