Album Review: What It Means to Be Left-Handed by Mice Parade
Great, Based on 7 Critics
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The sparkling solo project of multi-instrumentalist Adam Pierce, Mice Parade specializes in chilled indie arpeggios that swell with craftsmanship. We can now add to that description “crunchy sunshine,” in the case of Pierce’s third effort What It Means to Be Left-Handed, which swirls with kinetic strums and soaring vocals from frequent and new collaborators like Caroline Lufkin, Meredith Godreau and Swahili singer Somi, who flies Mice Parade to Africa in the spirited “Kupanda. ” Propelled by Pierce’s acrobatic acoustics, classical guitarist Dan Lippel, and hyperactive drummer Doug Scharin (HiM, Codeine, Rex), atmospheric head-trips like “In Between Times,” “Recover” and “Couches and Carpets” veer between gaze and flamenco without breaking a string.
It's a little startling to realize just how many albums Adam Pierce has released under the Mice Parade name over the years, happily pursuing his muse from the time when post-rock was a buzzword to an era when it just might be about ready to become the next retro-revival flashpoint. What It Means to Be Left-Handed shows Pierce and company continuing to embrace a variety of artistic impulses that become their own enjoyable interpretations. "Kupanda," the giddy opener featuring guest singer Somi, revels in its easy grace as well as providing a soft-landing point for both older fans and newer listeners; if it's a bit much to say it's a typical Mice Parade song, its nods to highlife guitar and hints of bossa nova ease are handled with equal adeptness.
Twelve years in, Mice Parade aren't aging. They are, however, looking back in a good way. Their latest album is broader in its sonic experimentation and more accessible. At no point are listeners left stranded in a land of offbeat drum solos and tangential world music. [rssbreak]. Instead, delicate ….
Mice Parade have been a lot of things in their 12-plus-year career: a solo project for Swirlies/Dylan Group member Adam Pierce; a lo-fi IDM outfit; a post-rock mainstay; a welcome home for chanteuse collaborators like Laetitia Sadier and Múm's Kristin Anna Valtysdottir; an ambient instrumental group; and, most recently, a creator of more glossily produced indie rock songs. This project's latest collection, What It Means to Be Left-Handed, continues in the vein of 2007's self-titled LP, in that every song features vocals, choruses, and pop melodies. It's a move even further away from Mice Parade's noisy, knotty beginnings.
At the crossroads of post-rock, noise-pop, and world music, Mice Parade has made its niche where indie becomes eclectic. So when you notice that Mice Parade describes itself as “flamenco” in addition to “shoegaze” on its MySpace page, it’s not done so with tongue in cheek: Band mastermind Adam Pierce is the kind of adventurous experimenter who probably wants to incorporate every sound and instrument he hears into Mice Parade’s mix, be it a strummy acoustic guitar, intricate polyrhythmic percussion or perfectly executed white-noise feedback. It’s Pierce’s use of all these elements and more that speak to the strengths and weaknesses of the group’s latest album, What It Means to Be Left-Handed, which is wonderfully open-minded at points, but frustratingly unfocused at others.
Brazed with the golden charms of brimming drums, clamoring guitars and an intensified plantation of multi-dimensions, Mice Parade celebrates with great pageantry. Their first album in over ten years as a band, What it Means to Be Left-Handed is the band’s opening foray into the scene of competitive indie music. And, although everything has always relied on master music-maker Adam Pierce’s ability at being able to sway different instruments into one substantial ball of endearment, their debut combines various artists and sounds to convey an overall tone that is definitely worth notice.
Tropicália, highlife and flamenco styles combine on Mice Parade’s latest LP. Rich Hanscomb 2010 Chief, er, Mouse, Adam Pierce, has impeccable credentials within the post-rock pantheon. From his early dalliance with Dub Narcotic Sound System-indebted The Dylan Group to his pan-global collaborative project Mice Parade, Pierce has rarely sat upon his indie-rock laurels.