The crisp beat of “Start & End,” quickly comes bolting out of the darkness with a thunderous stomp that will swell on occasion throughout the next forty-nine minutes of play, its initial introduction setting the mood for all that will transpire in Random Parade’s The Sad Charade. “Start & End” isn’t the only song getting physical with us here – it’s followed by “Sad Charade” and “Slip Into a Spell,” both of which will spend their duration hitting us with everything this band can muster inside of four increasingly claustrophobic studio walls. The Sad Charade might have been released in 2010, but in my opinion, it could qualify as one of the best records out in 2020 had it been cut this year.
“Daydream” wastes no time washing out the silence with a thick band of guitar distortion that will be pushed and shoved into a melody by the time we hit the :20 mark in the song. This tracklist has a remarkable fluidity that keeps the music rolling from one composition to the next seamlessly, but I wouldn’t describe any part of the aesthetic here as being overly conceptual or progressive-minded. Random Parade are quite the artistic group of rockers – they proves that with material like “No. 1 Crush” and the brilliant “Holy Water” – but they’re far from the self-righteous ‘artsy’ types that have coopted a fair chunk of post-punk revival into their neo-hipster nonsense in the last ten years (each of which, it’s worth pointing out, took place in the wake of this album’s first appearance online and in stores).
Once we’re in the clutches of The Sad Charade’s second act, it’s just about impossible to evade the excitement that an homage to The Cure like “Unstable” can spark no matter how many times you’ve heard it before. “Churn, Spin, Shake” and “Reason” are a little less tethered to the old fashioned way of making a post-Joy Division strain of punk rock, but all in all, you could argue that all of this music has a lot in common with the iconic forerunners who came before the likes of Random Parade. This album is concrete and rather historical if you take it in the context of its generation of LPs, not only as a statement of self by its creators but as a link to the alternative music past so many millennials need to better understand in 2020.
The Sad Charade comes to a close with the bassline-forged “Mirrors” and industrial power ballad “Cynic,” the latter of which still feels like the greatest song Random Parade have ever recorded. Ten years can do a lot to a record, and most of the time, it’s nothing positive – but this just isn’t the case with Random Parade’s debut album. For what I desire in a vintage alternative rock disc, The Sad Charade is a milestone for its genre and the timeframe from which it was put together, and this September, I’d recommend audiences around the globe give its tracklist a second look.