Making a debut album is like going on a speed date: you have a lighting-quick chance to express the depths of your nuances and individuality, while still leaving your "audience" (be it Eric the Lawyer of Table #5, or alternative music fans of the continental United States) wanting to hear more. It's especially difficult if you're English band Morning Parade, who've somehow had to package their five year history neatly into an 11 song track-list. Still, the band's self-titled debut album has an easy flow that will likely leave you hoping for a second date.
Much of the time, the music is quite touching. The band does some daring vocal harmonies on "Close to Your Heart," that, coupled with the hyperactive drums and guitar accompaniments, could have gone horribly wrong. Instead, the track is one of the album's loveliest -- it fuses hymn-like vocals with traditional alternative rock instrumentation. The album's organization is also careful and shrewd. "Close to your Heart" is followed by the short and sweet "Half Litre Bottle," which is a soothing palette cleanser after the demanding previous track.
Lead singer Steve Sparrow has an expressive voice that ranges from earnestly pleading to vaguely whiny. When he crosses that line, Morning Parade's impressive musicality gets lost in self-pity. Every so often, the band's sound can get a little bit heavy; like a cake one layer too thick. But it never stays that way for long. More than anything, Morning Parade is balanced -- never descending irreversibly into anger or melancholy, and never getting too sleepy even in the slowest tracks. This album waxes poetic about nostalgia, but it never gets stuck in it. Morning Parade keeps a cool Yin/Yang that reels you right in.
Check out our full-length Morning Parade concert video.