Morning Parade signalled their arrival as a very promising band on the British alternative scene with their critically acclaimed self-titled debut in 2012. Filled with strong guitars and indie brightness, the album left fans desperate to hear more and now their wish has been granted because Morning Parade are back with their sophomore release 'Pure Adulterated Joy'.
Starting off with 'Shake The Cage', the distorted intro tricks you into thinking you're in for something dark and raw, but soon enough it becomes a summery jam with smooth guitar strumming, bright synths and, most importantly, Steve Sparrow's uplifting, American influenced vocals that sound totally joyous. For 'Alienation', the synths take a very upbeat, poppy tone, but the piano and Sparrow's more subtle vocals in the chorus, give a mature feel to it. 'Reality Dream' goes further down this mature pop sound, but it's still bright with the fuzzy synth at the start and guitars with delay effects.
When it comes to 'Love Thy Neighbour', the album becomes rather sinister with a driving low riff and the opening lyrics, 'The neighbours are at it again, kisses on the lips and knives in the sink, this town is tired of talk' not to mention Sparrow's voice sounding considerably more rocky on this track. The following 'Car Alarms & Sleepless nights' returns to the album's earlier calmness; it's an emotive piano led song, calm until the bombastic bridge with loud riffs and angular guitar effects which you don't see coming.
With the light tremolo picked guitars that kick off 'Sharing Cigarettes', a lot of brightness is injected back into the album, however the lyrics on this track are much more angry: 'D'ya think I came round here just to tame your heart? You made a devil's deal, you sold my soul, the only one you owned'. It's a cool contrast; obviously Sparrow is writing from negative experience, but his cheerful voice along with the uplifting music sounds like he's getting over it and inspiring you to overcome your issues too.
This album isn't without with its weaknesses, however. 'Seasick' really goes in one ear and out the other with a brooding guitar pattern that's been done a million times before, and the chorus, 'Haunted by his self, under the neon lights, haunted by his self when everything is at sea', just doesn't have any depth to it and isn't as gripping as some of the previous tracks. Closer 'Culture Vulture' feels a lot longer than three and a half minutes, with a very lifeless riff that just plods along and does nothing but fill the guitar space of the song.
A few bad eggs aside, 'Pure Adulterated Joy' is a solid indie pop album that plays with a few different moods. Being poppy is clearly Morning Parade's strong suit, with the cheery songs being the best on this album. That said, they're pretty great at venturing out of that terrain with the slower piano driven 'Alienation' and the hard and aggressive (by Morning Parade's standards, anyway) 'Love Thy Neighbour'. If you like melodic and dreamy music, you'll probably love a lot of this album.
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