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Alphabeat - Don't Know What's Cool Anymore (Album Review)

Tuesday, 05 November 2019 Written by Simon Ramsay

People will always debate what is and isn’t cool, but such analysis practically renders any conclusions moot. If someone thinks they’re cool, they’re not. If they attempt to be cool, their intent betrays the concept. Genuine cool, if it exists, is surely an unconscious trait possessed by those who are true to themselves and unconcerned with what anyone else says, thinks or does. In which case, Alphabeat’s cracking comeback may be the coolest pop album you’ll hear all year.

What makes ‘Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’ such an instantly pleasing return is that, having overproduced their last two albums, which both leaned heavily on studio technology, it heralds a return to the more organic aesthetic of the band’s beloved debut, 2008’s ‘This Is Alphabeat.’

There’s a heartfelt sense of purity and embedded warmth that comes from musicians expressing themselves directly through their instruments, creating a human connection with listeners computers can never replicate.

Throughout this record jumping basslines and funky guitar patterns, alongside a textural waterfall of percussive flurries, whip up a tidal wave of high energy, infectious rhythms that will flood any dancefloor with revellers.  

The jet-heeled acoustic charge of Goldmine tears it up like the B52s on a love shack destined rocket ride, Now You Know is a piano led chunk of cabaret-pop camp and Back Of My Bike a gloriously cheesy singalong that fittingly rides a laid back groove. 

Although in their 30s, Alphabeat still display the same excitement as a swarm of excitable kids on Christmas morning, particularly co-lead vocalists Stine Bramsen and Anders SG, whose voices bounce off each other like luminous beach balls. The only difference is that, with years of experience under their belts, that youthful energy fires up better crafted compositions that boast a previously unavailable lyrical maturity.  

Consistently hitting the required generic markers with deadly accuracy, there isn’t a single verse, bridge, chorus or middle eight that isn’t a piece of contagious ear candy for fans to devour. Sometimes, meanwhile, highlights how they’ve freshened up their formula with appealing new twists, its folky backbeat and affluent gospel chorus enriching the tune’s uplifting pop smarts. 

In many ways, though, this record is all about connections. Not just because the Danish six-piece have regrouped after six years, but also due to the creative process being a more collaborative affair. Joining the writing team of Anders SG and Anders B, Bramsen has brought a personal storytelling approach to the songs that, by synergising soulful organic music with relatable grown up lyrics, allows them to resonate deeper than the band’s earlier work.

Shadows juxtaposes darker themes with a pumping euphoric groove as it encourages us to find solace in music when depression circles. Elsewhere, Sing A Song, which candidly charts the band’s rise and fall, is their first ballad and typifies the nostalgia that oozes from this record. The band may look back and discuss the ageing process, but it’s always with a sense of acceptance, gratitude and humour rather than melancholy.  

Alphabeat may never be deemed cool by self-designated tastemakers but, by reconnecting with their early devil-may-care attitude, the band have crafted their best album yet. A nine track gem that will strike a chord with anyone who craves an artistically authentic musical experience, it thankfully makes no concessions to modern day trends and is much cooler as a result.

Alphabeat Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu April 02 2020 - LONDON Subterania
Fri April 03 2020 - BRIGHTON Old Market
Sat April 04 2020 - GLASGOW Garage

Click here to compare & buy Alphabeat Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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