hough the world of indie certainly isn’t starving for more bands to take their cues from the Beatles or ELO, Musique Magnifique, the Procession’s self-released debut, stands apart from the pack simply by virtue of how much attention the band clearly put into its genesis. Songs like “Don’t Hesitate” don’t so much evoke staple reference points like “Mr. Blue Sky” or “A Day in the Life” as approximate their charms, and that’s a much harder trick to pull off.
It helps, of course, that they’ve got actual musical chops. If you’ve given chances to albums like Tones of Town or even Neon Bible and come away from the experience unsatisfied, you really do owe it to yourself to give Musique Magnifique a spin just to hear what it sounds like when a band that can actually harmonize—or come up with a guitar solo capable of standing on its own two feet—takes aim at the same target.
But more than anything else, it’s the Procession’s preternatural gifts for composing and arranging pop songs which make Musique Magnifique such a worthwhile experience. It’s simply staggering how doggedly the Procession resist the temptation to rock out or psyche out or anything out over the course of their album; these days, you’re lucky if you can find one song where the artist abstains from pushing things up to eleven, let alone a whole album’s worth. And even when they can’t help but show off, they’re careful to keep their indulgences within the song’s already-established boundaries; “Major and Minor” contains both a crunching guitar refrain during the chorus and not one but two solos without disrupting the holistic jauntiness that defines the experience of listening to the song. No wonder it’s slated to be the next single. (How the band settled on it over any of its nine equally-qualified siblings remains a mystery.)
Make no mistake: Musique Magnifique is not a great album—or even a great debut. It is, however, an exceptionally promising one steeped in musical hallmarks many bands spend their whole careers attempting to pull off half as successfully. Musique Magnifique, to put it another way, sounds accomplished enough to be some other band’s fifth or sixth album; one trembles at the thought of what the Procession might come up with if they make it that far themselves.
Reviewed by: James Cobo
Reviewed on: 2007-05-02