High on Stress: Cop Light Parade

Some things just aren't as easy as they appear. You know that painter on PBS with the giant afro, Bob Ross, who paints happy little trees? Have you ever tried to paint a happy little tree? It's hard. Or have you ever tried to write a killer rock song? How about 12 of them? It's hard, but High on Stress make it sound easy. With Cop Light Parade, High on Stress build on their straightforward alt-country/rock sound. The album is full of confidence; it sounds like a band that has found its pace. Lead singer Nick Leet's voice is strong and sure, and the band channel the Stones, early Wilco, and Paul Westerberg as they bend and curl around the clever and lucid lyrics.

With few exceptions, Cop Light Parade deals less with the teary-eyed part of heartbreak, instead taking on the angry, bitter, and jaded side of love. It's as if Leet is telling us all, "Look, you're going to get your heart ripped out and stomped on. It's going to really, really suck. Deal with it." Like on "Memorial Day," when he sings, "When you're young you know your heart will break/When you're old you know nothing will change," or on "Table 8 in Queens" when he sings, "Rock and roll can kiss my ass, it's never saved anyone."

One big difference between this new album and 2005's Moonlight Girls is the addition of a secret weapon, bassist Jim Soule. His harmonizing voice adds texture to the already catchy songs. It's a small thing that is layered on top of all the other small things that High on Stress do right, which makes their deceptively simple songs accessible, addictive, and more satisfying than any of Ross's happy little trees.

 
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