Mice Parade Bem-Vinda Vontade

[Bubble Core; 2005]

Styles: mellow acoustic jam, electronica
Others: Tortoise, HiM, The Sea and Cake, Igloo

These days, applying the label post-rock to a band seems worse than the "hair metal" tag from the mid-90s. The ultraliterate, emotionally detached, and largely instrumental appropriation of rock seems to have passed from hip to passé as inconspicuously as a Tortoise composition changes time signature. Now that driving rock bands with actual mainstream potential and quirky psych-folk acts (no crossovers there) have the ear of the underground, is there room for a band like Mice Parade -- the anagrammatic moniker used by mastermind Adam Pierce -- who offers "post-rock" with no sense of irony?

Like Jimmy Carter, I say yes.

Bem-Vinda Vontade (roughly translated from Portuguese as Welcome, Will) embraces its post-rock identity while offering expansions of the sound in many ways. With only one instrumental number available, "Ende," the songs, while still not pop by any stretch, take on a more open and accessible quality. Pierce's vocal presence blends nicely with the delicate, lulling textures of his compositions and is well complemented by the ethereal whisper of Mum's Kristin Anna Valtysdsttir on "Night Waves" and "The Boat Room," as well as Ikuko Harada on "Ground as Cold as Common." But the real strengths of Mice Parade are Pierce's instrumental abilities: precise, impellent drumming, liberal use of vibraphone, and the more recently developed (at least on record) intricate guitar work, a nice holdover from Obrigado Saudade.

Will this album exceed the expected reach of any other so-called post-rock release in a time when the form seems so anachronistic? On that count, the jury is still out. However, as regards the question of the merit of this release, the answer is unquestionably affirmative. Pierce sinks his heart into his music, and while that may not manifest in impassioned yelping or big rock riffs, the exquisiteness of his playing and songcraft make it apparent. So relax, kick back, throw on Bem-Vinda Vontade, and let your leather pants rest in the closet until the next big thing shows up on your iPod.

1. Warm Hand in Farmland
2. Nights Wave
3. Passing & Galloping
4. The Days Before Fiction
5. Steady as She Goes
6. Waterslide
7. The Boat Room
8. Ground as Cold as Common
9. Ende