Remember those mice in Bagpuss? Right noisy swine they were. Once they’d got off that mouse organ and started singing you could barely hear yourself think whilst they waxed lyrical over the latest arrival in Emily’s shop.
If they’d been discovered by the average passer by there’s little doubt that they’d have been crushed under a hobnail boot or cunningly lured towards the nearest cheese adorned trap. Why marvel at their ability to sing, or their ability to turn their hand to industry with that chocolate biscuit machine when there’s so much fun to be had stomping mice skulls?
Silence then, or at least an appreciation of the word hush would have been, and indeed is, the best policy for the average mouse. Hush is something that Mice Parade’s Adam Pierce has most certainly taken to heart in the course of his many albums (this being the fifth for Fat Cat alone). Stomping about in hobnail boots or singing extravagantly is not in his repertoire.
Mice Parade is an extensive exercise in mood. One part post-rock, one part electronica (check out those brilliantly tinny drums), and one part folk, it is another of those Fat Cat records that gently soothes the listener without doing to much to challenge the senses.
Although hailing from America, this is an album that anyone well versed in Icelandic mood music will be instantly comfortable with. In fact, on Double Dolphins On The Nickel there are even some Icelandic vocals courtesy of M�m‘s Krisin Anna Valtysdoittir. As you might expect, this lends an ethereal quality to a song that is already the very definition of minimal. It quashes any idea that it might be a song that doffs its cap in the direction of Minutemen.
For all of the post-rock elements that are present, it’s when Pierce plays it straight down the folk line that things really come alive. The Last Ten Homes plays things endearing simply. Replete with beautifully layered guitars, interwoven vocal lines, and handclaps it provides an early highlight. Snow follows on with a guitar squall reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, but it never fully gets the chance to fully envelop the track; Pierce preferring to let it grind away in a haze behind a dreamy vocal.
Only on the closing track The Nights After Fiction do things raise themselves beyond a bleary eyed slumber. Drum patterns reminiscent of Bug era Dinosaur Jr lead us into a dense track that peaks and troughs in all the right places. Instruments appear and disappear almost as soon as they are introduced, and for once the noise Mice Parade create is elevated to at least two levels above “ambient”.
There is plenty here to enjoy among the weaved vocals, dreamy soundscapes, and intensely clever song writing. You just wish Mice Parade would just occasionally let off some steam and take a page out of those pesky Bagpuss Mice’s book. We promise we won’t crush his skull with our boots or tempt him to his doom with cheese.