The Electric Soft Parade released its debut album, Holes In The Wall, in 2002 to great acclaim from the fickle British press. No Need To Be Downhearted is their third album, and it carries on the likeable Britpop tradition of the band without breaking any new ground.
ESP is made up of brothers Tom and Alex White, who aren’t ashamed to show their influences, with their rock/electronic sonic collages referencing the Flaming Lips and the Super Furry Animals. The first three tracks show great diversity, from the piano-centered ballad that leads off (it works more as an intro than a song unto itself) to the electronic plinking that carries the melody behind driving guitars in the catchy “Life In The Backseat.”
“Woken By A Kiss” sounds like the more anthemic leanings of Doves, featuring a bridge and chorus straight out of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd, with a swirling synth floating behind the vocals. It’s not the only time the band brings psychedelia to the mix, as “Secrets” moves from a basement acoustic ballad to an orchestrated crescendo.
The brothers White’s excellent harmonies weave in and out of the album, showing up in fine form on “Misunderstanding” and the gentle, acoustic “Shore Song/Surfacing.” “Shore Song” segues into “Surfacing,” a bubbly, ambient break that splits the album. Unfortunately after this break, the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to the first part.
While there are instrumental passages in a few of the songs that will surprise the listener outside of their pop surroundings, there is also a fair amount of standard Britpop fair, including “Misunderstanding” (“the single”, says the band), “Cold World”, and “Have You Ever Felt Like It’s Too Late.”
“Come Back Inside” shows more of an Americana influence, with a descending guitar riff making it the only song on the album that seems bleak in its outlook. The general optimism of the album makes sense, as the titular Part 1 and Part 2 of “No Need To Be Downhearted” open and close the album, respectively. In the band’s favor, there’s truly no reason to be downhearted after hearing it.
While it’s undeniably catchy and fun, No Need To Be Downhearted isn’t going to change your world. It’s a great sunny day album. If you’re a Britpop fan, take the dive.