No two Mice Parade albums are ever the same. Their fifth album sees them move on from 2004’s basement and lo-fi Obrigado Saudade to something more embellished and fully realised. The intimacy of their records are still there, but in a proper studio Adam Pierce has more of an opportunity to develop his songs into something more. Whilst this album still shares it’s root in all that’s gone before, this is a step up production wise and sounds fantastically clear.
Being joined by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier and Mum’s Kristin Anna Valtysdottir certainly helps when you want crystal clear vocals. Pierce’s are a somewhat lighter version of Lou Barlow’s, and this album brings to mind his recent solo work and that of The Folk Implosion – delicately woven rhythms and electronica over a mainly folk theme. The guitars are all intricately played and, too, sound perfectly clear, ducking and diving through the vocals. This is particularly obvious on the beautiful Double Dolphins on the Nickel where Kristin’s pixie-like delivery floats perfectly over the duelling guitars. Elsewhere we get periods of quiet ambient music, just simple guitar strums that have some kind of cosmic energy, they don’t feel as though they’re rooted on the ground. They just exist and spread outwards and upwards. The gentle drums quietly add an surge in proceedings, but nothing over the top. In fact, when they kick in half way through the song Satchelaise it shakes you from a trance the previous songs have lulled you into. The simple Circle None bring to mind more astral plains, the two separate guitars channel very different riffs but are augmented by some simple electronic beeps and clips that join these two disparate thoughts.
Fans of Pierce’s early work might be disappointed by this more accessible and polished approach. But, to me, this is a gloriously simple and beautiful album that brings to mind the American Analog Set and, at just nine songs, it never out stays it’s album. It’s the perfect sound track to a summers evening. Sure, it’s gentleness and slow pace won’t shock anyone and it could get a bit boring if you weren’t in the right mood. But don’t let that put you off, this is a album of a quiet and understated beauty.