It would be so easy, with the pedigree of those involved, to label this album as a progressive rock collaboration, to pass it off as another throwaway from the MA stable which has, over the last 2-3 years produced a seemingly endless stream of projects and offshoots.
To do so would, in this case, be a travesty. Parade’s debut is all that, and so much more.
The Fabric is an album which draws threads from genres spanning decades and weaves them into something which is almost greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Come Alive has all the jangly sparkle that current chart breakers seem to need, a quirky track which would be as at home on Radio 1 on a Sunday night as it would being introduced by Whispering Bob. Start Again is reminiscent of a late 80s style of guitar based pop a la Stone Roses crossed with Transvision Vamp, a strangely alluring mix. The album continues to surprise, at one time airing psychedelic rock with the panache of Jim Morrison’s The End (High Life) before bursting forth with an almost perfect Brit pop anthem (Feedline) of which both Gallaghers and Mr Brown would be proud, hurling headlong into Gothic grandiose the likes of which Wayne Hussey can now only dream. And then finally leaving you with a haunting melody (Ending) which seems to pull all those loose ends into a delicate yet cohesive whole.
At other times there’s an introspective feel to the songs (Facing Down) which almost seems out of place.
There are definite nods to the time Chris Johnson has spent touring with Fish in both the construction of some of the songs and the use of ‘grooves’ to guide some of the tracks. And it’s also apparent that some of the material was perhaps meant for an alternative vehicle. What is not so apparent is where Parade will go from here?
High points on the album are The Diamond, a hypnotic track which draws you in with the rhythmic acoustic guitar and almost cardiac drum beat, and The Dogs which can only be described as ‘prog meets 28 Days Later’ and showcases the vocal talents of both Chris Johnson and Anne-Marie Helder to great effect.
It’s not all roses. The eclectic mix of styles and the ‘loose’ production make The Fabric a hard album to listen to. It seems that the edges of this material may be somewhat frayed, there’s an incoherence to the overall album which may turn some listeners off (I missed the excellence of Ending for this very reason on my first listen!), all I can recommend is perseverence and eventually the disparate threads will create a whole.
On first listen The Fabric may confuse, on the second it will amaze and on each listen thereafter new emotions and experiences will abound.
It’s like Dali in sound.