Mayday Parade

Monsters In The Closet

Written by: TL on 08/11/2013 17:50:40

Having the bad luck to emerge as one of the less prolific among a wave of breakthrough pop-punk acts that exploded in the 05-07 period, by now it's fair to say that Mayday Parade has been treated somewhat superficially, both here and elsewhere. Yet despite the band's story being one of making a splash domestically with debut "A Lesson In Romantics" only to suffer a considerable blow when one of the two lead singers at the time, the popular Jason Lancaster, left the band to form Go Radio, the Tallahassee quintet has soldiered on and somehow established themselves as an oft-overlooked pillar of reliability in the American pop-rock scene.

Arriving now on their fourth full length "Monsters In The Closet", it seems to me that the band's main problems lie simply in modesty and conventionality, seeing how they've opted out of radical style changes and neglected pushing any one band member flamboyantly into the limelight, rather opting to merely gradually refine their romantic, theatrical songcraft, to the point where I wouldn't blame casual listeners for barely noticing the differences moving from 09's "Anywhere But Here", across 11's "Mayday Parade" and onto "Monsters In The Closet". Even singer/pianist/guitarist Derek Sanders, who throws his vocals around impressively on here, has struggled futilely to escape the ordinarity of his American emo boy tone, making for another important hindrance between the band and superstardom proper.

It comes almost as a surprise then, each time you put a Mayday Parade album on, just how huge and intricately written it sounds, and "Monsters In The Closets" is no exception, with opener "Ghosts" working some Queen-inspired piano/guitar/choir dynamics, much like "Oh Well, Oh Well" did on the previous album, and while the emo metaphors of the lyrics resist being made sense of, the composition is easily dramatic enough to reel the listener in regardless. This quickly becomes a theme for the album, the band seemingly content with stringing together incoherent lyrical sentiments, safely giving the audience just enough to sing along to while leaving all meaning almost totally open to interpretation.

Combining Mayday Parade's previously mentioned handicaps with them refusing to reveal anything beyond the briefly relateable in their lyrics, "Monsters In The Closet" is hindered significantly, but only to the point where one must still reluctantly admire their penchant for writing ridiculously engaging melodies. Track two, "Girls", takes over right after "Ghosts" offering a refrain in "Girls never listen or learn" that it's difficult to not sing along to almost stupidly, and the same can be said about the escalating chorus in the mouthful of a track "The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing".

I could go on listing hooks like those at lenght, but the short of it is that "Monsters In The Closet" is eventually an album suspended between the "almost but not quite there" of Mayday Parade's style and lyrics, and their borderline over-developed capacity for triumphant melodic movements that consistently gives you the feeling that you should probably like the album more than you do. Yet while curious me could probably spend hours combing songs like "Even Robots Need Blankets", "Repent And Repeat" and so on, for coherent hints of a hopelessness and resignation that seems to hide behind the record's otherwise bright and romantic tone, critical me inevitably must ask the band if it isn't time to grow up and make a bit less of a jigsaw of the lyrical department.

The alternative seems to be that despite all their impressive developments as musicians, Mayday Parade will continue to cater mainly to those than want soaring melodies for easy listening and are happy to be kept at arm's length from the band, attributing their own meanings to songs. If you're one to look for either a novel identity of sound or for more profound messages or lyrical imagery however, then it's probably small wonder if you have been - and still are - a bit frustrated in your attempts to really connect with Mayday Parade.


Download: Girls, Ghosts, The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing, Angels
For The Fans Of: Marianas Trench, Yellowcard, Every Avenue, The Maine

Release Date 08.10.2013
Fearless Records

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