Mice Parade What it Means to Be Left-Handed

Adam Pierce's long-running project began in the mid-'90s as a fairly modest solo exercise, with early results resembling a more electronic-dependent Tortoise, with slight indie rock leanings. Since then, Mice Parade have expanded both in worldview and membership, collaborating with everyone from Múm's Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir to returning guest percussionist Doug Scharin, whose HiM project has ever been a parallel grower. Rhythm is still firmly in the driver's seat on What it Means, opening with tracks that combine African percussion and Pierce's nimble flamenco guitar. Opener "Kupanda" is carried by Swahili singer Somi's vocals and elsewhere, Caroline's Caroline Lufkin breathlessly fills the spot previously occupied by Valtýsdóttir. Pierce's songs have a flowering grace, with a fragile core bolstered by hurly-burly joyfulness. He strays back to the rock world with a too-perfect cover of the Lemonheads' "Mallo Cup" that's like bumping into a college roommate at a market in Mali. Despite this wobble off the album's central axis, Mice Parade's sixth release is another winner. (Fat Cat)