When you first hear the combined voices of Phoebe Baker and Lou James on the opening track “Lovers 1,” you are bathed in a warm vocalgasm. Their voices sinuously blend and weave over each other. “Lovers 1” seamlessly becomes “Lovers 2.” The instrumentation is cool and quirky, a nice combo of electronic and acoustic instruments. The voices re-enter, richly adding to the tapestry that Australian sextet Alpine has so masterfully set up early on in their debut release, A Is For Alpine. You would not be not wrong in thinking that your hosts are about to take you down a sonic journey that will surprise and delight. Sadly, disappointment lurks ahead.
Track 3, “Hands,” is still somewhat engaging. The lush vocals from “Lovers 1 & 2” are here, but now they sound like dead ringers for The Bee Gees, which isn’t a bad thing. However, Alpine’s obsession with disco begins to rear its ugly head on this track, but the vocal melody is catchy enough that the disco underpinnings can be forgiven– for now.
From here on, the album quickly nosedives. The vocals, which were so wonderful not more than eight minutes ago are now becoming tedious — they never vary or change from here on in. Every song features the vocals with the same treatment in the same sonic space. The drum programming (and human drumming) is uninspired. Ultimately, the songs are a grab-bag of everything hot in hipster music today. This will not age well; two years from now this type of music will sound as dated as ironic mustaches look today.
The problem with bands like Alpine is that they are so gung-ho to be a part of the quirky zeitgeist that it’s hard to comprehend what this band is about. No band truly wants to sound like the backing track to an Urban Outfitters shopping trip, right? Right? There is obvious talent here, but it is piled under a heaping layer of irony, which is the worst thing to happen to music since the gated snare.