Mice Parade What It Means To Be Left-Handed(FatCat) Buy it from Insound
Mice Parade have always been magnetised toward the hip, as it is presumably difficult not to be whilst signed to FatCat. But they have always resisted this attraction, maintaining an instantly recognisable musical persona.
Immaculately-intoned bongo patterns open the album, and the undulations of Swahili vocalist, Somi, combine with this to form a sound instantly evocative of '90s Ghanan highlife. Pierce's acoustic guitar finger-picking is reminiscent of flamenco in its rhythm and timbre, but the chord progressions that anchor it are positively pop. Layered with the wonderful kora work of Adbou, the overall plucked string textures evoke the West African guitar of Koo Nimo, or even the old Onyina recordings.
In Between Times, following a timid electronic intro, embarks without hesitation into the signature Mice Parade soundworld, where soft crunchy bass and energetic acoustic strumming meet stirring, glad melodies poured out in the voices of Pierce's carefully selected collaborators (and frequently, in contrast, his own earnest monotone).
The track conforming most to modern pop trends is Tokyo Late Night, but it does not sound derivative for it. A dance-like beat plays out on acoustic kit whilst simple, repetitive piano brings to mind scatterbrained rhythm-smith Four Tet. Fortune of Frolly, despite the promising opening snare shuffles, has some over-familiar flamenco guitar ideas that bring to mind popular pastichers Rodrigo y Gabriela, but the low-mid close harmonies of Pierce's vocal then reel it back in to the uplifting sonic locale of Mice Parade.
What It Means To Be Left-Handed is amply adorned with Pierce's distinctive improvisatory drum stylings, with each rim hit and snare taking on a melodic spirit of its own, whilst never intruding. His kit-work is a baffling contradiction of smooth and jagged, providing a solid backdrop whilst playfully interacting with dense acoustic guitar textures or washy post-rock atmospheres. The album does lack the angelic liquid whispers of Kría Brekkan, but her small shoes are satisfactorily falsetto-filled by Caroline Lufkin, whose vocals float above Pierce's to beautiful effect, particularly on the closer, Mary Anne - originally penned by soulful North Dakotan songwriter Tom Brosseau.
Pierce and his revolving cast have put out record after record of upbeat but earnest pop. Each is resolute in its influences, but never quite rips anything off, so we get the impression of a truly distinctive artist. Also. I just realised Mice Parade is an anagram of Adam Pierce. That is so cool.27 August, 2010 - 17:11 — Michael Waters