The Electric Soft Parade at Rough Trade EastCultureMusicLive music
“A decade of awesome”, purports The Electric Soft Parade’s Twitter page. As a summation of their career it is as apt as it is misleading. Performances dissipating in 2008 following the release and tour for No Need to be Downhearted, it almost seemed as though the band had disappeared. However, both White brothers remained insatiably active, continually pursuing solo and other projects. 2011 saw the release of an EP and a return to touring, and as of this Monday, ESP has released IDIOTS – the band’s fourth full-length album to date.
While the music has subtly shifted from the prog-influenced indie rock of their Mercury Music prize-nominated debut to varied power pop song-smithery, over ten years in the business have done nothing to quell Alex and Thomas White’s youthful likability. With back-up from a chummy rock quartet and a female vocalist, Rough Trade’s receptive crowd were treated to seven of IDIOTS‘s ten tracks. Thomas even jokingly quipped: “Sorry for a full set of ‘new joints’, as Tim Westwood would call ’em,” yet apologies were certainly not in order. The complexity and breadth of IDIOTS‘s lush arrangements were lovingly and meticulously replicated. Even with seven people onstage, Alex White was constantly switching instruments to flesh out the almost orchestral sound.
Each song worked even better live than on record, with the phenomenal two-part harmony of Mr Mitchell and the album’s title track evoking the spirit of the Wilson brothers’ sunny disposition. The former was possibly the highlight: perhaps a little twee on record, the White’s seasoned live chops rendered the everyday British imagery of Mr. Mitchell and its McCartney-esque music hall bounce as convincing a slice of power pop as the Mael Brothers in their heyday.
Very few bands survive this long, and the last decade has seen countless casualties from the music scene. While many have disappeared into the ether, Electric Soft Parade made it through – and with good reason. When they have this much fun with songs as lovingly crafted as these, it’s tough for a band to ever die. Ten years in, Thomas and Alex White remain British music’s best-kept secret.
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Watch the video for Summertime in My Heart here: