Music Reviews
Obrigado Saudade

Mice Parade Obrigado Saudade

(Fat Cat) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

The title of Mice Parade's third album on FatCat is a Portuguese phrase, which roughly translates as 'thank you nostalgia'. That said, 'saudade' is an untranslatable term rooted in the Lusophone world, where the history of slavery, continental migrations and maritime exploration lend a whole new depth to longing and loss. It's a concept that demonstrates Mice Parade's interest in that which lies between language and feeling, those half forms of communication that exist in the nuanced and subtle spaces of unsaid emotion.

Despite being their most accessible and complete album to date, Obrigado Saudade is still an esoteric and explorative work, where founder and multi-instrumentalist star Adam Pierce draws on a host of avant-garde pals and collaborators, including Doug Scharin of Him and the celestial voiced Kristin Valtýsdóttir of Múm to create a warm, multi-layered and emotive set of songs.

Tracks like opening cut Two, Three, Fall echo the rich rhodesy sound of dosh, with Valtýsdottir's vocals spiralling into quasi-linguistic chanting. Focus on the Rollercoaster is reminiscent of the spiritual experimentalism of Him's recent Many in high places..., being musically intelligent and dextrous without sacrificing the inviting summery vibe. The mid-section borders dangerously on becoming background music, though, as the work becomes perhaps too spectral and airy, but Pierce - a drummer with Múm on occasions - demonstrates enough rhythmic awareness throughout to keep things ticking along. Spain returns to the half-vocals and sonic layering of the opener to good effect, while Out of the Freedom World echoes another avant-hero, Four Tet, in its near baroque strings and epic jangling, accompanied by Doug Scharin's jazzy, driving percussion. Perhaps the song that sums up Pierce's efforts is Guitars for plants. Seemingly a simple instrumental interlude, reminiscent of the noise-filling speciality of Black Dice, the track demonstrates a stratified and tectonic approach to sounds, a complex layering of noise and harmony. It's a track that personifies the musical intelligence and complexity of Pierce's project.

Obrigado Saudade is a welcome addition to the avant-garde canon, an album that demonstrates the continuing development and growth of Mice Parade and Pierce, and which illustrates the benefits of the collaborative approach to music making. It's not as groundbreaking or challenging as some of its peers, but nevertheless, it's an album close in spirit to the heterogeneity and emotional depth of its title.