So, here it is at last. The long-awaited debut album from Morning Parade. I've been a fan since I heard Under The Stars way back at the end of 2010, and was drawn further in by A&E, their next single, which turned up around this time last year. Criminally, the latter song is not on their debut album and if I'm honest, it's hard to see why - it's one of their best songs! Still, it leaves room for many new songs; some of which are just as good.
The opener, Blue Winter, is a rougher, rawer sound than most of the album. Opening with feedback and a drumbeat, then giving way to the guitars. They don't waste any time getting into their stride. It's a very indie rock sort of track, but the chorus is slightly lacking compared to some of the masterpieces they create later on in the album. Headlights, which is planned to be one of the next singles, follows on from the opener, and contains one of the aforementioned choruses. "Cos like a rabbit in your headlights, I am the beckon to your call" it goes over backing vocals of "aaaah..." It's hardly original but it's still guaranteed to have fans singing along.
Carousel comes next, perhaps the greatest song on the album for me. It moves a few inches away from the more guitar-heavy side of the first two songs. I did say 'inches', mind. Starting with an electronic beat (that soon turns into a fuller drum part) and a small synth part to accompany it. It also contains a massive anthem of a chorus ("all our lives, in a hiding place! In a hiding place!). I think it should be a single. After the three-punch combo of the first few tracks, we move into something a bit more heartfelt, Running Down The Aisle, which brings in piano to create a sad atmosphere. "Tell them to keep the cameras rolling..." goes the chorus, and really makes you feel moved by the whole thing. As it heads towards the end, lead singer Steve Sparrow makes his mark even more on the track with some fantastic vocal work. A beautiful change of pace, although it does end a little unexpectedly.
Next up, it's back to guitars taking the lead, and this is the single that preceded the album, Us And Ourselves. The first time I heard this track, I wasn't particularly interested. It has grown on me, however. The best part of it is just before the end as everything comes together and the words "oh it's us and ourselves" are repeated over the standard "oh, oh..."s, before it ends the way it starts. It's nothing incredible, but could still make an impact on the crowds. And then comes Under The Stars, which has been slightly reworked by the sounds of it. It sounds much more powerful in the drum department, but it hasn't lost any of its magnificence from the original. Its a very dance-y track which I expect will be reflected live (and maybe already has, considering they say they've never played a gig without that song). Again, the vocals reach their peak right at the end (they're brilliant the whole way through, mind).
Now if you've been a fan of the band for a while, you may have come across this next song, Close To Your Heart, as a free download last year. It's another rawer guitar sound for this one, and it's another grower. First time I heard it, not so keen. Listening to it more, it does make a little bit more of an impact, but I still think of it as one of the weaker tracks on the album as it doesn't really have much to interest me. But I still like it, more or less. Maybe I'm just bitter about A&E not being on the album - this would be a perfect place for it to go, in my opinion.
And now it's back to the sadder side of Morning Parade with Half Litre Bottle. The song consists of more or less nothing but a lone guitar and a lone vocal (with a few extras in the background) singing about drinking to take away your problems. It does begin to get a little boring towards the end, but the band have made sure it doesn't overstay its welcome too long, seeing as it is the shortest song on the album. The next song, Monday Morning, is quite a relaxing, atmospheric piece with another fantastic chorus which flows beautifully and seamlessly from one verse into another. It does, however, begin to overstay its welcome towards the end as well.
Speechless opens with a lone piano before guitars and drums burst into life. Unfortunately, by this point, it sounds like a lot of this has been done before on this album, and it doesn't quite have the same power that I think the band was going for on this song as a result. Still, it's not a bad song by any means. But finally comes Born Alone, an absolutely epic six-minute masterpiece of closer which redeems the band ever so slightly. It showcases everything the band do best, the chorus being the highlight. It's another song trying to tug at your heartstrings but this time, rather than going all minimal and hoping that does the job, this one is a fuller sounding song. "I was born alone, but I will not die alone!" screams Sparrow over the climax of the final chorus, and gives you goosebumps. Fantastic stuff.
It's undoubtedly all been done before, and even the band sound like they didn't have a wide range of ideas, as the album does drag a little at times. Still, they move sounds quite a bit, from guitar to piano to synths taking point on the various tracks. And you can't deny they have a way with choruses. These guys have the potential to really make it big, even in a world where guitar music is being suppressed by all the rubbish that dominates the charts. All they need now is a few more exciting ideas, and bingo.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Carousel, Under The Stars, Born Alone
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACKS: Close To Your Heart, Speechless