On a simple and consistent trajectory of rhythm that doesn’t allow for much deviation from an evenhanded formula, there’s a pulsating sense of dread that follows every step we take in “Unstable,” and while it’s presented to us in a slightly different fashion than it is in “Slip Into a Spell,” the two songs are bound together by a lot more than the tracklist of Random Parade’s The Sad Charade.
From the haze of harmonies in “Cynic” to the urgent swing of “Sad Charade,” Random Parade’s 2010 debut album doesn’t fail to keep its listeners on the edge of our seats, waiting to find out whether the light at the end of the this tunnel is just a mirage or a genuine path to redemption from the murky backdrop we’re placed in side of here. In The Sad Charade, the sunny warmth of this band’s southern California scene is nowhere to be found – in its place, there is only a forbidden embrace of angst nothing short of eviscerating for those who are sensitive to the emotionality of modern electric art.
“No. 1 Crush” doesn’t leave us in the lurch plied with more bassline indulgence than we know what to do with; unlike some of the similarly-stylized songs of its era, this is a superiorly heavy track far from dependent on overstated tones. There’s a carnal attitude that comes with every verse in “Holy Water,” “Churn, Spin, Shake” and the album-opening “Start & End” that you just can’t manufacture with any amount of studio bells and whistles, and frankly, I don’t think there’s anything worse than listening to someone try to. Random Parade have never tried to manipulate us with their synthesized harmonies – even the artificialities in their sound have a purpose to advance a certain narrative or feeling, and that’s what makes this debut such a hard record to put down. There’s nothing self-centered about the statements made in “Slip Into a Spell” or “Mirrors;” on the contrary, they feel as commentarial as this kind of material can get without sounding a little paranoid.
If it’s abrasive noise given the gift of a melodic backbone you seek, “Reason” has your number. Layered poeticisms that extend themselves from words to strings and synth harmonies the same? “Daydream” is the next song you need to spin. Groove-focused post-punk grabs us with both hands in “Sad Charade” much as a faint allusion to violence is enough to both intimidate and rally an entire audience in the opening bars of “Start & End,” and together, all eleven of these songs add up to something that no indie rock fan can dismiss as unoriginal or uninspired a decade after its release.
The Sad Charade, for all intents in purposes, will likely never be regarded with the same love and respect that Unknown Pleasures is, but for its time, it would be criminal to discuss the early 2010s SoCal alternative rock identity without acknowledging its contribution and, moreover, the continuous influence Random Parade have provided in the years since dropping it.
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