The Hit Parade

The Return of the Hit Parade

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A full 12 years after 1994's The Sound of the Hit Parade, singer/songwriter Julian Henry returns with his first new material, logically entitled The Return of the Hit Parade. Apparently the long layoff did Henry some good, because especially following the relentlessly downcast The Sound of the Hit Parade, these 12 tracks sound downright sunny. Even the moody "Lonely Girl" is enlivened by a slightly tongue-in-cheek-sounding flamenco-style guitar part and massed backing harmonies. Elsewhere, "You're Bloody Rubbish" is a giddy punk-rocker with goofy vocal sound effects in the background, possibly the most silly, fun song the Hit Parade have ever recorded. The opening "Ode to a Footballer's Wife" has the dry wit and melodic elegance of the Divine Comedy and the adrenaline pop rush of early Heavenly, while "My Stupid Band" recalls the meta tendencies of Tullycraft and the glorious "Sugar" is a wide-eyed, sweet-natured love song of a style Henry has rarely attempted previously. The album's last two songs, "It's a Dream" and "You're the Girl Who Always Gets Her Own Way," finally bring the album back around to the wistful, keyboard-heavy vibe of The Sound of the Hit Parade, but for the most part, The Return of the Hit Parade finds Henry having almost entirely revised the sound of his band to excellent effect: not only is this an unexpected and welcome return, it's quite likely the Hit Parade's best work so far.

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