Australian indie pop band Alpine specialize in peppy songs meticulously worked and perfected until they are left with a whimsical, yet delicately eerie sound. Often times it’s hard to believe they’re a six-piece outfit, considering their past history in sparse beats and effortless techniques, but when listening to Yuck, the follow up to 2012’s A is for Alpine, it’s definitely more apparent, and those same beats expand and morph into absolutely addictive entities.
The first thing about Yuck is that it’s amazingly quirky, and it takes after the band in that sense. While Alpine is first and foremost a pop band, there are moments in Yuck that could be considered on the borderline of R&B and even electronica, and after slow opener “Come On,” the album turns into a rapid exhibition of these influences. “Crunches” begins with meticulous guitar melodies and slowly builds, while “Up for Air” break things down a little bit more and lets the song move forward on it’s own volition. “Jellyfish” and “Much More” are quirky and ethereal, both showing off the band’s skills in the genre. R&B inspired track “Damn Baby” is triumphant and upbeat, and brings back a lot of the techniques that make the album great. The techniques that the band uses, including heavy beats and jumpy synth, give each song it’s own specific personality, while also solidifying the band’s reputation. However, where the album loses points are how the band chooses to use these techniques. While it is of Alpine to try and pull off the “messy” effect of their songs, often times it sounds a bit too convoluted and all goes by in a haze – almost as if they wanted to include every learned technique all at once. I suppose it is something that comes from having a band with so many people and clashing opinions, but it is something that is definitely noticeable and somewhat takes away from the specific feeling that they were trying to achieve.
The songs, overall, are mostly about love and the lack thereof, and no track quite sums up frontwomen Lou James and Phoebe Baker’s feelings on the subject other than “Foolish.” The quick strums of the guitar in the opening are almost tangible, and it sets the tone for the rest of the song when it morphs into a full-bodied, bright orchestral track. The vocals are impassioned and the vocals themselves are almost childlike in a way, considering that it’s comparing a first kiss to a less than desirable experience. It’s a treat for the ears in how it jumps around so delicately, and it’s perhaps the best track on the album. The simultaneous desire and disgust for one’s own feelings towards a significant other runs rampant throughout Yuck, and as a result of that contradiction, it does sound triumphant, but with a vulnerable twist. While often times it can be a bit dizzying on the senses, the album is still a great example of Alpine’s abilities to be delicately meticulous and deeply self-aware.
photo by Tracey Lee Hayes