Random Parade’s most recent album release Never Meant to Last is a nine song collection continuing the Southern California band’s ongoing evolution. They’ve toured with seminal 80’s acts such as The Fixx and Missing Persons while echoes of Joy Division and The Cure, among others, are present in their music. It doesn’t mean, however, that Random Parade’s music is chained to a particular era. Songwriter Gregory Christopher’s music embraces a gamut of voices but a significant portion of common ground they share is vulnerability.
It wears different faces, however. “Pathogen” opens the album on an ominous note and the guitar-driven instrumental mixes electronic instrumentation in for atmospheric effect. Brief introductions like this are often throwaway moments, but not here. The off-kilter desperation at the heart of the second track “Lockdown” packs a dual punch. It has a steady pulse from the beginning; the drumming, particularly the snare, sets an authoritative tone.
Random Parade’s guitar stands out again. The influences mentioned earlier are audible, without question, but the six-string fills an orchestral rather than lead role in the band’s sound. It effortlessly blends in with the arrangement. Parade pushes listeners with another physical drum track though, as before, Christopher’s measured pace never rushes its audience.
“Therapy” doesn’t have the go for broke careening some may associate with punk rock music but, nonetheless, isn’t a literal riff on the style. There’s a heavy dose of rock coloring the song’s structure, especially, and it helps deepen the song’s impact while the punk fury sharpens its bite. Christopher’s willingness to write about thorny themes will impress more listeners than it turns off. He writes and performs with such near-palpable energy, however, that it lightens the material.
We’re gliding over off-kilter territory again with “Open Windows”. It has an outstanding opening driven by a simple swaggering drum beat that highlights Never Meant to Last’s production. Few, if any listeners, will feel any disappointment over how Christopher presents Random Parade’s music. His eighties influence shines bright again, but it isn’t imitation. Random Parade hears a time-tested musical vehicle, sees ongoing value where others do not, and Christopher claims it as his own.
PURCHASE LINK: https://randomparade.bandcamp.com/album/never-meant-to-last
The brittle minimalist of the guitar opening “Illusion” does not last. The quasi-staccato rhythm Christopher’s playing establishes is one of the song’s strengths, but there are others. The guitar work goes full flamethrower in the second half of the cut and leaves you reeling. Parade incorporates synthesizers and other effects into the album’s fabric without sacrificing its fundamentals. Remove any bells and whistles you may hear in these recordings and it’s still a sturdy and satisfying listening experience.
“Funeral Exhale” has a lot of the slightly eerie mood permeating some earlier songs. There are listeners though who may hear an unexpected commercial quality in the songwriting and sound alike. It is downcast, without question, but likewise possesses an almost cinematic sweep that threatens to carry listeners today. Never Meant to Last ends with the rousing “This Is the Day” and the hypnotic guitar riff central to the song is one of the album’s most memorable moments. Tasty lead guitar punctuates the finale without ever going overboard. The songs on Random Parade’s second full-length studio album Never Meant to Last are the most mature Gregory Christopher has written so far.