ne-man act Mice Parade, dictionary-wise, is post-rock—meaning he can be slung somewhere between a spectrum that comfortably includes ambient electro-jazz-hoppers and guitar histrionics. They tend to fit happily in the middle, dabbling in ethered-sounding drum 'n' bass, playing guitar qua guitar, with sprinklings of lyrics sans the manifesto pushing that's often tethered to these kinds of works. Maestro Adam Pierce's (the band's name is an anagram of his own) Mice Parade, his seventh release since forming in 1999, continues with the middle-of-the-road, ambient pop approach that marked his last few efforts.
Parade reveals Pierce as a bit of a classicist in his genre: he doesn't wish to rip ears off and most of the album is noodling-free. Then again Pierce's repertoire isn't particularly stunning—most of the sounds are straight off the shelf—there are drum-in-a-can effects, thick vocal mosaics, and subtle washes of noise on most of the album's nine tracks. The triumphs on the album rely less on Pierce's smalltime aural adventures, but on his tendency to steer rougher sounds into a smooth shape.
A West African stomp reveals itself slowly in "Last Ten Homes," a jogging number with a syncopated step and interwoven guitar lines. Pierce plays the guitar with a self-conscious economy which insures that every angle of the song will get full coverage and lets the acrobatic production do most of the talking. "The Tales of Las Negras" doubles on this success with a zoetrope mash of organ and guitars that build on Pierce's knack for sublime compositions.
Not quite homage, "Double Dolphins on the Dime" welcomes Newsom-type adventurers with some helium strangled vocals from Kristin Anna Valtysdottir. Were it not for Pierce going Dutch on the vocals, the cold keyboard taps and brushed drums would just sound like Icelandic mood fluff. Often the album wanders into similarly tepid climes that would benefit from the spikier moments in Pierce's earlier albums which managed to level denser compositions to a similar melodic end.
Pierce's percussion pedigree is obvious. He's moonlighted with various groups over the years, including múm, HiM, and the Dylan Group. He punctuates most of the cuts with drive-by spits of drumming that are necessary to jolt the sleepier tracks to life. But when his mastery takes a backseat to sleepwalked melodicism, it only builds an unwanted tension that threatens to tip Parade off its quiet perch.
Reviewed by: Daniel Denorch
Reviewed on: 2007-05-08