The Electric Soft Parade Review The Singles

With tracks from Lissie, Dizzee and John Legend...

Brighton-based duo The Electric Soft Parade – aka brothers Thomas and Alex White – are back in the game, so to speak, after some six years away from the public eye (as a pair, anyway).

Having enjoyed chart success in the early 00s, the band’s last LP – ‘No Need To Be Downhearted’ – was a well-received third effort released in 2007. And then… nothing. Until now: on June 17th, the band’s new album, ‘IDIOTS’, will emerge.

Ahead of its arrival, The ESP has seen lead track ‘Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone’ named Shaun Keaveny’s singles of the week on BBC 6 Music. Which is nice. What’s rather sadder than that slice of fortune, though, is the song’s video, which can be watched below.

And then, below that, the brothers get stuck into June 17th’s new singles.

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C2C – ‘Down The Road’

Twisted glitch-blues with a hint of RJD2's ‘The Horror’ in the sample manipulation. It puts us in mind of the Spankox remixes of classic period Elvis – ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ in particular – though the end result rather makes us yearn to hear whatever the original was. Pro Tools has opened the door for so many bedroom producers, and there's some seriously nifty editing going on here; but this is essentially a hip-hop track without a rapper, right?

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Everything Everything – ‘Don't Try’

Haven't we had enough of "Woah-oh-oh-oh" vocals yet? To be fair, the production and programming are razor sharp, but the overall picture is of a song seemingly constructed from the catchy bits of other tunes – and that a good record does not necessarily make. Some friends of ours saw these guys at the Great Escape recently, and were raving about the live show, so we shall have to reserve judgement.

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John Legend – ‘Who Do We Think We Are’

This isn't half as interesting as his recent work with The Roots, and the beat sounds almost exactly like ‘Sing For The Moment’ by Eminem. Quite a weird choice for a single too, though the sample from ‘Mr Big Stuff’ is a nice touch, and well utilised. Too many lyrical clichés though – “Who do we think we are”, “I feel good tonight”? He might as well be singing, “I've got loads of money and I'm rapping on a track.” If this was Jay-Z, the beat would be fatter and looser and the rap would be immaculate. This is sluggish and phoned-in. 

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The Family Rain – ‘Pushing It’

This is fairly standard post-White Stripes rock, and they aren’t nearly as dirty as they think they are. It's a competent stab at the formula, though in doing this you’re essentially competing with The Black Keys, and that’s a hard act to follow. Some of the syncopation brings to mind Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Brianstorm’, though again with a fraction of the finesse. 

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Lissie – ‘Shameless’

The first thing that comes to mind is the idea of a hip-hop producer trying to make a ‘rock’ track (see ‘Umbrella’). There’s a real effectiveness in having ‘wordy’ verses. If they work. Kitty Pryde is doing this kind of passive-aggressive self-analysis so much better at the moment, and in an exciting, modern way. This has an ugly bravado, and is self-referential in a totally pretentious way. Shameful and pointless.

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Twenty One Pilots – ‘Migraine’

There's a naive charm to this, a sense of a late-‘90s metal band having a go at a pop single, or maybe Ben Folds being forced to write a hip-hop track at gunpoint. As label-mates of fun., the pumped-up vocoder, piano and drums don't come as much surprise; though the rapping actually puts us in mind of Ugly Duckling or The Pharcyde, Gym Class Heroes even. After Lissie's gratuitous, boastful bellendery, and John Legend's autopilot slow-dance, this is a welcome breath of fresh air. 

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The Dirty Rivers – ‘The Kid’

Easily the best-sounding track so far. Though there's a simplicity to the arrangement, they clearly believe in what they're doing, and as far as what they're trying to do, they totally achieve it. Throughout, there are echoes of The Beta Band's ‘Assessment’, a hint of Charlatans in the groove, and more than a little nod to Temples in that cavernous vocal sound. 

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Dizzee Rascal feat. Robbie Williams – ‘Goin Crazy’

Again, a sharp, exhilarating production. A real triumph. The whole nature of the lyric reflects so much of what Robbie has discussed openly in the past few years, and that can only be a good thing. Sure, it's got all those classic pop elements, yet there's an honest, melancholic undercurrent throughout – a tangible darkness that all the best pop singles have. This has the potential to rank alongside ‘Dance Wiv Me’ as a crossover single without any concessions to etiquette. It's also got about 20% of the DNA of ‘When Will I Be Famous’, though it's really a cynical spin on that song's blind self-belief. Single of the week.

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