Anyone fancy starting a betting syndicate? A US firm of bookmakers is offering odds of 1,000,000-1 on the Mayan Apocalypse going down in 2012. A quid each, we can share the load of the stake. And it's looking dicey out there. But of course, how long would we have left to collect and spend the winnings should our horse come in? I suspect the bookmaker will be too busy finally 'making romance explosion' with the cashier girl at Superdrug across the road, and I presume the pubs and clubs will be a bit of a free-for-all anyway.
This is not the end of the world, but a real curate's egg of a debut album from Fools Parade. By accident or design, so much of 'Holy Wasp' is in thrall to the provincial, observational style of Arctic Monkeys that it's impossible to ignore the glaring parallels. So what is interesting enough here to grab our attention?; where do you look for solace and inspiration should you be listening when the tempest arrives and the enlightened ones are sucked from the imploding earth?
Wading through the stodgy, if solid mass of familiar, melodic indie-rock, there are a few ingots of illumination that suggest greater things for these lads from Chorley. 'Anticlimax', though it doesn't do anything particularly fancy, is a stomping 4/4 opener. It immediately draws attention to the lead vocals, the most noteworthy aspect of the band. It's a Turner/Ryder hybrid with a drawled, drunken wisdom that they should give more free reign to explore and direct the songs. 'Dirty Dog' is my favourite on here, a mantra with a gigantic stop-start riff, monged-out Klaxons harmonies and a nihilistic cry of 'Death's a welcome rest.' 'Earthquake Box' also visits more exotic climes, a slow-burner with prominent keys and vocal effects that compliment the swirling arrangement rather than drown it, as on some other tracks. Final track 'Thunder' stands out like motorway lights mapping northern ley lines; it's probably the least direct, least hook-y track on here, but it sounds great in isolation, like some obscure Rough Trade release in 1982 meant to be heard surreptitiously by torchlight beneath a duvet.
Elsewhere, the urge to create anthemic guitar-pop gets the better of the group and the needle gets stuck somewhere in 2006. Case in point is 'Tell Me a Tale', which is handy with a chorus but seems too calculated, done too well by too many others some time ago. It's a fine and dandy bit of chugging to get a few mates jumping around at the front, but I'm a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner looking for a bit more than that. 'Good Things Cum in Threes' is the nadir I feared from the title; a hopeless, unevolved caricature of 'If You Were There, Beware'. I think 'DFA' and 'White Space' are unfortunate casualties of the loudness war: instruments seem to be competing to be heard, nothing stands out and all depth and nuance is sucked from the songs; just a blanket of noise, and not in a good way.
There is plenty of hope here though. Half of 'Holy Wasp' provides enough intrigue to prod me into listening again. A little more derangement of the senses, a little more space and a bit less throwing everything at the wall will serve them well. A mixed bag, but Fools Parade have time on their side to follow their instincts and set their own course towards the future.
Posted: Tue 27 December 2011