Blending the sexuality of ’90s R&B with contemporary indie-pop, Australian six-piece Alpine have a pretty good idea of what it takes to create nuanced-but-infectious music. All 10 of the tracks on the band’s sophomore album Yuck have at least one hook worthy of repeat listens and most are stuffed to the gills with those sugary things.
Despite running for nearly four minutes, opener “Come On” feels more prelude than traditional album-starter; the rollicking electro-pop of “Foolish” is where Alpine hit their stride. Serving as the band’s first single from Yuck, the song is pure pop magic. It includes obvious elements from the Great American (pop) Song Book, like nimbly strummed acoustic guitar leads throughout the song’s many hooks, vintage disco string and brass flourishes and layers of vocals reprising the initial hook.
Plus, Lou James’ mid-track lyrical run of “You brought too much, too much metaphor to the relationship / to what I see / to how I kiss / yuck!” always prompts a “Hey, that’s the name of the album!” moment. “Up For Air” share many elements with Grimes’ most successful tracks from Visions, like ethereally chanted vocals, the ratcheting echoes of a synthesizer buried at the bottom of the mix and infectious electronic
Midway through the album, Alpine slow their roll on “Jellyfish” and “Much More.” These tracks differ from earlier songs that were focused on thrusting hook after hook on the listener; with these mid-album tracks, the band subtly eases the melody onto the listener.
However, the songs are not without fault; the faux-boho mysticism of “Jellyfish” produces some cringe-worthy moments that overpower an excellent chorus. Luckily “Much More” takes a more methodical and subdued approach, making the still-present self-serious boho elements a much smaller pill to swallow.
Like on “Foolish,” “Up For Air,” “Damn Baby” is successful because Alpine simply cut loose and make things sexy. “Damn Baby” might be a bit silly lyrically, but it’s another example of the band creating a song that just oozes “fun.” As mentioned earlier, there is not a song on Yuck that is complete filler or throwaway, it just seems they are at their best when they don’t think and just do.