Label: Cooking Vinyl Release date: 15/03/10 Website: Since The Electric Soft Parade first entered the indie scene and public consciousness with their tremendous debut album, ‘Holes In The Wall’, in 2001, Thomas White has been a mainstay of the always-bourgeoning Brighton scene. For the past decade he has released a multitude of albums with Brakes, ESP and is forever helping out his mates as a session musician. His CV lists he has played with Patrick Wolf, British Sea Power and The Pipettes. While all this may make him appear to be an elder statesman, he is still only 25 and The Maximalist is his second solo album, following 2008’s ‘I Dream Of Black’. Rather aptly, ‘Introducing The Band’ opens proceedings mixing instrumental rock, and almost grungey guitars with understated gospel along with a progressive undertone. ‘The Last Blast’ has the feel of ‘Left’-era Hope Of The States, but surely White would take influence from something more obscure. Quite poppy with spoken lyrics almost lost in the brass-led instrumentation, it speaks volumes you clearly understand his statement: “history will remember us”. The following track, ‘Moonlight and Snow’ is where the album turns up a notch and White seems intent on bringing all his influences in to one glorious mess of a song, starting with a 60s psychedelic feel (although if Spector had listened to post-rock), it morphs in to a track that wouldn’t be out of place on Patrick Wolf’s first album and then experimental breakbeats a la Aphex Twin come to the fore. Completely unexpected but it leaves you blown away, and the classical ending is another uplifting transformation. That it is followed up by the Clapton-style seven-minutes of ‘The Weekend’ shows the diversity of White. And you believe him when he states: “I sing for my supper, I’ll drink til I’m dead, I’ll drink to the weekend’. Engrossing and intimidating, it’s to White’s credit that he turns his love of soft rock into something listenable. And yes, there is an epic solo halfway through before another joyful experimental change in tone closes the song. The atmosphere again changes with ‘Synapse Galaxy’ sounding all the world like something from Doctor Who before going all club hit. Order is restored with the almost-power ballad ‘Accidentally Like A Martyr’ really choking you up, the most straightforward song on the album, it could easily soundtrack the ending to a very cheesy film – and is all the better for it. Thomas White’s polymathic tendencies come to the fore on this release, where he has free reign to do whatever the hell he likes whenever he wants, even if it halfway through a song. The way the closing ‘…Lost’ ends with what alien noises just feels completely appropriate. Free from the shackles of bandmates, he knows what he wants to sound like even although maybe a little self-induldgent, this is not necessarily a bad thing. At times soothing, others difficult but never less than experimental and exciting, it’s a challenging listen that reaps rewards. ‘The Maximalist’ may not quite gain maximum marks, but it came mighty close. Photobucket What say you on this? Sound off in our Fourum!