Every time I press play on New Volunteer’s new long-player Remote Control Parade I’m reminded ofSupertramp’s ‘Dreamer’. That’s purely from the burst of keyboard stabs on opener ‘All Their Peculiar Ways’, after which the similarity disappears completely. After the Supertramp start this is non-stop alt-rock, choc full with melodic, harmonic, rhythmic wonderment – Summerteeth-eraWilco mixed with chunks of the merrier side of Shack and Pernice Brothers.
Remote Control Parade is, for the most part, a jolly affair. Bouncing along at a fair rate of knots for the opening three (most excellent) tracks before the first of its mellower moments with ‘Conneticut’, a soft and atmospheric breakdown of piano and little else. The tempo and sentiment rises only slightly for ‘To You’, which is rather sad, but quite beautiful “and I can’t seem to find you / and my home is with you / but I don’t know the way / to you”.
Title track ‘Remote Control Parade’ is a rampant beauty full of off-kilter brass, synth stabs, breakneck-speed tambourines and a tidal wave of energy… all before a strangely false end. ‘Kicking Down The Park’ is another fave; a slow groove with the most gorgeous feel; a pop song with melody and harmony to die for. The same could be said for ‘Keep Talking, Keep Talking’, more up-tempo with toe-tapping inevitability. The repeated “I don’t know how this will turn out / I don’t know how this will end” are basic but hugely effective over the increasing pace and gusto, a simple formula previously used to great effect during ‘People And Leaves’ with “So ask yourself are you gonna leave / pack up your world and have your peace.”
Whilst I would say the overall standard of song here is extremely high, not every track grabs me completely and keeps my attention after repeated listens. The last two tracks just fail to reach the heights of the previous ten, though only by very little. The playing and production however are faultless and Chris Mears’ vocals too are a constant highlight. There’s optimism in every note he sings, I love his tone and his delivery, as if he’s singing with sad eyes, trying his hardest to convince the listener, or reaching out to a loved one or friend. Remote Control Parade pours out fantastic melodies in heavy doses, highlighting the band’s ability to make something which seems so simple sound so bloody good. Musically however, this is far from simple. There’s an orchestra of instruments to admire, but nothing is crowded or cluttered. Most importantly it all serves as the perfect backing to the melody, and Chris Mears’ honey-sweet vocals. I like this very, very much. Fans of Wilco… what are you waiting for?