What It Means to Be Left-Handed

by: Mice Parade

It's a little startling to realize just how many albums Adam Pierce has released under the Mice Parade name over the years, happily pursuing his muse from the time when post-rock was a buzzword to an era when it just might be about ready to become the next retro-revival flashpoint. What It Means to Be Left-Handed shows Pierce and company continuing to embrace a variety of artistic impulses that become their own enjoyable interpretations. "Kupanda," the giddy opener featuring guest singer Somi, revels in its easy grace as well as providing a soft-landing point for both older fans and newer listeners; if it's a bit much to say it's a typical Mice Parade song, its nods to highlife guitar and hints of bossa nova ease are handled with equal adeptness. More rocked-up numbers like "In Between Times," with its shuddering start and magnificent sea shanty-paced break, a showcase for Pierce's distinct acoustic guitar sound as much as the percussion that he first became known for, and the equally breathless but flowing "Recover" have an equally immediate grace. In contrast, "Mallo Cup" might actually be too straightforward a rocker, sounding less distinct than most of the songs around it on the album and more like a bit of a Swervedriver B-side from 1993, but the piano-led "Tokyo Late Night" provides a nice contrast at capturing the paradoxical feeling of contemplative energy that defines the band. The distant, melancholic tones at the start of "Couches and Carpets" and the piano punctuating "Old Hat" are other highlights on an album that concludes with a cover of Tom Brosseau's "Mary Anne," perhaps the best aural definition of a sweet-sounding bummer around. Short pieces like the electronic tones of "Pond" and the quick shimmer of "Remember the Magic Carpet" may only be snippets but are all the more enticing for that. ~ Ned Raggett

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