Alpine – A Is For Alpine
The indie-pop landscape is densely populated. Up-and-coming bands know they must shape a distinct aesthetic if they are to have any impact. Melbourne six-piece Alpine have shaped theirs with debut album A Is For Alpine; it is one which is clean and minimal, yet is able to combine a child-like essence with a set of mature narratives.
The album opens with the atmospheric couplet of Lovers 1 and Lovers 2, the former a hypnotic percussion-driven track filled with hushed and dispassionate vocals, the latter more minimalistic with mellow guitar work and whispery vocal lines. Lead single Hands relies on pop hooks and lurching synths to create a hybrid of quirky and mysterious. The song’s lyrics are the album’s most memorable, its central statement being “It’s okay / To feel the rain / On my hands / My love / My enemy”.
The moody nuances of Villages are a refreshing yet short-lived step-back from the album’s generally uplifting tones. Evoking the trials of modern love, the track is one of the more emotionally honest songs on the album. Another is Softsides, which builds from elegant guitar lines to a percussion-driven repetition of “This is forever”. This build up, although slightly anti-climactic, shows the group know how to play with tension on many levels.
Gasoline is one of the more eclectic and quirky tracks on the album. Chirpy guitar sweeps, staggered synths and pulsing percussion make the song charmingly robotic. The lyrics are figurative, with lines like “There’s gasoline in your heart / There’s fire in mine” combining with catchy vocal hooks. The track shifts, almost to a strange ‘70s disco vibe, yet maintains a contagious sense of naivety.
Unfortunately, A Is For Alpine struggles to maintain momentum; the concluding tracks seem similar and lacking in nuance. Perhaps the aptly titled Too Safe seems fitting at this point in the album’s progression. Heavily reliant on its two female vocalists, Alpine allow their instrumentation to be drowned in soprano tones every now and again. This can lead to songs being supported mainly by overbearing vocal lines. Jumpy pop track In The Wild is testament to this.
However, Alpine’s unassuming and groove-centred style is quite entrancing. A Is For Alpine is not melodramatic, nor thematically diverse, yet its clean indie aesthetic remains intriguing and somewhat playful. The band’s gracefully constructed grooves are easy to fall into, easy to lose yourself in. There is a definite focus on holding audiences within these swells of indie-pop, which is tedious at times yet successful for the most part. Alpine have shaped a distinct indie aesthetic with this debut album. It is one which doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet manages to highlight a certain maturity. The Melbourne group have claimed a spot in the indie-pop landscape, they now need to experiment with their sound and take advantage of their prime position.