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Mice Parade - Mice Parade

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Artist: Mice Parade

Album: Mice Parade

Label: FatCat

Review date: Jul. 3, 2007

Mice Parade is the seventh full-length album by the band of the same name. I don’t know if the eponymous title was meant to signify anything about the album – like that this is the definitive Mice Parade album – but I like the idea that this album introduces the band as a going concern, continuing the transition from the home recorded, one man band approach of The True Meaning of Boodleybaye to the more structured approach of last year’s Bem-Vinda Vontade. To be sure, Pierce continues to build his songs out of unusual elements, using obscure alternate tunings for the guitars and adding electronics and studio distortion during production. And this remains very much Pierce’s project, despite employing an eight-person touring band, and having prominent collaborators like Laetitia Sadier and Doug Scharin helping out on the album.

While Mice Parade used to be an outlet for more long-form instrumental works, Mice Parade, like Bem-Vinda Vontade before it, is best described as off-kilter indie rock, with verse-chorus-verse structures and fairly short, melodic songs. Mice Parade is just as interesting and creative as ever, though, even when writing songs with more traditional structures. Pierce and Sadier trade verses nicely on “Tales of Las Negras,” even if the instrumentation consists of little more than percussion and electronics. “The Last Ten Homes” has an anthemic chorus (for Mice Parade, at least), but also has a gorgeous classical guitar break near the beginning. The most compelling song on the album, the finale “The Nights After Fiction,” has some insistent drum work that transitions the song through several separate movements in a five-minute span. Even “Swing,” which opens with a quiet folk music arpeggio, quickly moves into a counterpoint between acoustic and electric guitar, with studio reverb layered over both.

The pattern is fairly consistent throughout: The material on Mice Parade sounds like polished, enjoyable pop music, and it takes a while to notice the intricacy of what’s going on, since where it starts is almost never where it finishes. It may not be the definitive Mice Parade album, but it’s a terrific summary of what the group is all about.

By Tom Zimpleman

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