Alphabeat – Sometimes 2020

“I don’t think I’ve heard a track this good from them since that first album.”

Tim: Sometimes, an entirely decent album track from last October’s excellent Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore. Now, updated for the summer, by dialling it up. Everything up.

Tom: That’s lovely! That piano sounds like it’s coming out of a solid piano-dance track, but instead it’s backed by some properly uplifting Alphabeat harmonies. I don’t think I’ve heard a track this good from them since that first album.

Tim: Blimey, that’s a hell of compliment, and while I’m not certain I’d agree it’s definite up there with the best. Thing is, I don’t know if it’s just the wooden backing on the artwork here, but right now I’m imagining them standing on a big stage leading a barn dance. The twanging from the guitar helps, I think – the original had a slight country vibe to it, just about coming in at the end, but here it’s right in from the opening verse.

Tom: The production is spot on, the melody’s lovely. You can sing the chorus after one listen, but it’s never been irritating. This is a really good song.

Tim: I’m writing this immediately after seeing yesterday’s garbage dumpster of a video, but OH MAN this has put me right up there in a fantastic mood. Talk about ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus’, this knows exactly what it’s doing, and does it so so well.

Tom: Right! I actually went back to listen again, which is high praise from me, and was surprised by that opening chorus: I don’t know why. Of course you lead with it, obviously you lead with it. Give the public what they want.

Tim: SHINE A LIGHT. SHIIIIINE INSIDE. COME IN THROUGH MY WINDOW KEEP ME UP ALL NIGHT. That positivity’s right there from the off, and hangs around like a much needed…I dunno, something that we all need. This track, say. This track hangs around like this track. Nope, that doesn’t work, I don’t care, I’m too busy shouting along. SHINE A LIGHT etc.

Saturday Flashback: Alphabeat – 10.000 Nights

“Did someone just find an old 240p .mov file sitting around on a backup drive? How odd.”

Tim: I’m going to see Alphabeat in Copenhagen next weekend, so let’s revisit, with a music video that’ll remind you of the ’00s in a really not good way.

Tom: That was uploaded… this year? Did someone just find an old 240p .mov file sitting around on a backup drive? How odd.

Tim: You know, part of me wants to text 83138 just to see if that offer’s still valid.

Tom: Presumably you also get a free ringtone.

Tim: But other than that: BOY, what a stunning track that is. I’m quite excited, you know.

Alphabeat – I Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore

“OOH YES it’s like the Alphabet of a decade ago”

Tim: Tom, you said yesterday that everything seemed generic, and you couldn’t mind much to write about. Turns out the music gods paid attention, because: NEW ALPHABEAT!

Tom: Crikey, between that and Mika, it’s like my university years have come back.

Tim: First thirty seconds of that, I was “hmm, it’s okay for a second track, decent funky pop, I guess I can cope”, but then the CHORUS came along, and suddenly I’m “OOH YES it’s like the Alphabet of a decade ago”.

Tom: That chorus bassline reminds me a lot of Train from 2012, too. I’m not suggesting it’s a rip-off: it’s just another touchstone that puts this, well, as not being cool any more.

Tim: It’s fun, exciting pop, proving that either they truly don’t know what’s cool any more or that they just don’t care, because this ain’t mainstream music, with its gloomy synths and weird vocal samples and genericness. No. Instead, it’s happy, energetic, upbeat, joyous, celebratory, arms flailing in the air for that drum bit at the end, wonderful music.

Tom: I was going to specifically point out that drum fill! You’re right: it’s not the sort of thing we hear much these days.

Tim: I’ll be heading to Denmark to see them in November, and right now I’m more excited about that than ever.

Alphabeat – Shadows

“BACK TOGETHER after five and a half years, bringing this track with them. No pressure, then.”

Tim: Alphabeat are BACK TOGETHER after five and a half years, bringing this track with them. No pressure, then.

Tim: And it’s exactly as we’d expect, really. A slightly funky tinge here and there, but otherwise it’s just good pop music.

Tom: This did beat my admittedly-low expectations, mainly through that chorus. I’m less sure about the verse, and I’m particularly unsure about the scratching-scraping percussion that turns up in the left channel for the second verse. As for those weirdly-positioned “move with me” chants, well, hopefully they’ll grow into the sort of thing that becomes a callback rather than irritation.

Tim: I listened to Alphabeat a bit over Christmas, inspired by their wonderful Christmas track, and was actually wondering what they’d got up to, and now they’ve answered. Sure, it’s not a 10,000 Nights or a Fascination, but it’s still really good – melody, energy throughout, great chorus – and all it’s got me thinking is “when’s the album out?”, which is a good thing to be thinking after hearing a comeback track. Possibly the best, actually.

Alphabeat – X-mas (Let’s Do It Again)

Sleighbells and all sorts. It’s lovely.

Tim: Right – I’m on to a new bottle over here, how are you doing?

Tom: Considering taking it up.

Tim: You should, it’s wonderful. Now, I got to see this lovely band on tour last week, and they really do put on a stonking (yep) performance. There’s only one criticism I have: they didn’t play this.

Tim: Disappointing: the use of ‘X-mas’ in the title, and the fade out ending. It’s really not hard to write a convincing end to a song, so can’t you at least try?

Tom: Also, the synth is a blatant style-rip from Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime”, which – let’s face it – is pretty much the worst Christmas song to rip off the style from.

Tim: Also notable about that song: “simply” is in the wrong place in that line for it to mean what he means. Think about it.

Tom: I’m not trusting your Drunk Logic, but now you’ve pointed it out: that “simply” is just meaningless in context. It’s not being compared to anything. It’s just there to fill in two beats. God damn it, McCartney, this is the “in which we live in” from Live and Let Die all over again.

Tim: But appointing (I know that’s not the reverse of disappointing, but it should be): the rest of it. Sleighbells and all sorts. It’s lovely. A traditional Alphabeat song – even if it’s not got the most upbeat message, it’s still sung in a very happy way, and for anybody listening casually all it’ll do is reinforce the Christmas spirit. JOYOUS.

Unfortunately, as I said, it’s not got the most upbeat message. We started this week with “I love Christmas” and (probably) “I love you lots, wait a sec”, but now we’ve a Pogues-style “our relationship kind of sucks but it’s Christmas so let’s not split up”. There are two ways to interpret that: the charitable way is “I know you’re about to dump me, but don’t, because this should be a happy time”. That’s all well and good – happy, festive, all that. Just what we want from Alphabeat. And what we’ve got.

Tom: That’s charitable? That sounds like a bloody awful Christmas to me.

Tim: Charitable if we’re discussing the singer’s meaning. Compare it to the alternative subtext, which I’m almost ashamed came to me: “I know you’re about to dump me, but if we stay together you’ll have to get me a present and I, knowing you’re about to dump me, will happily get you a crap one. I win.”

I’M SORRY. I’m sure that’s not how the song works. THE SONG IS LOVELY. I LIKE IT.

Tom: I think Tim’s starting to sob into his port now, readers.

Alphabeat – Love Sea

“Hey, they’ve covered The Who! Oh, wait. What?”

Tim: Hey, they’ve covered The Who! Oh, wait. What?

Tom: OUT HERE IN THE FIELDS! I… huh. Yeah, you’re right, they’ve covered The Who.

Tim: Yes, but then it’s not just that, is it? I mean, have they turned into a multi-target tribute band with telling anyone? Because first there’s the intro, which is, as we’ve agreed, unmistakably almost identical to Baba O’Riley (which is here, for anyone who’s not heard it, in which case they should listen to it now because it’s brilliant), and then there’s the ‘come on closer’ line, which is straight from Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know.

Tom: The first two lines are almost the same as “It’s a quarter after one…” from Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now.

Tim: OH GOD, I hadn’t noticed those as well, but you’re right.

Tom: In fact, almost everything in this track reminds me of something else. It’s strange to listen to: there’s something to be said for familiarity, but this is just plain weird.

Tim: It is, and you reckoned that their last one, Vacation, had similarities to other tracks as well.

Tom: “One two three, you’re in love with me” is probably original, that’s just because all other bands would have rejected it for sounding like it was written by a six-year-old.

Tim: What I want to know is: how did this happen? No-one — but no-one — in the music industry could fail to recognise either of those, surely, so this can’t be accidental. But their first album, with tracks like 10,000 Nights and Fascination was so original and inventive that I just can’t see quite what’s going on.

Tom: Despite all that, it’s still a catchy song.

Tim: Oh, I agree – don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good track, as however unoriginal parts of it may be, it all goes together very well and sounds great. It’s just – what’s with the lifted stuff?

Alphabeat – Vacation

There’s not a lot I could criticise here.

Tim: Third album, lead single, let’s GO!

Tom: One, two, three, four! What? Sorry. I was counting in there. Not sure why. Can’t even play the drums, really.

Tim: I should explain: I’m in an unusually very upbeat mood at the moment (no idea why), so I’m having difficulty finding criticisms of songs. But I genuinely think there’s not a lot I could criticise here even if I wanted to.

Tom: Unexpectedly downbeat first verse after a very strong introduction? The fact that it’s basically a cross between Madonna’s Holiday and Kool and the Gang’s Celebration? The fact it’s a bit more of an album track than a lead single? Okay, I’m trying to be the pessimist to your optimist here, so perhaps those are a bit unfounded. Ultimately, it’s not “10,000 Nights”, but it’s not bad.

Tim: The verse isn’t downbeat – it’s just not as upbeat as the intro and chorus. But listen to that chorus – it’s great. “Leave your troubles way behind, we gonna have a good time…have yourselves a good vacation.” Add to all that the as-usual-great Alphabeat style, and who can complain about it? They even talk about nose-picking, which is a delightful first for a pop song, as far as I’m aware.

Tom: Wait, what? Delightful?

Tim: Oh yes. I’ve always though you don’t get anywhere near as many references to it as you should.

Tom: Well, if you feel like being nauseated, have a read about Frank Zappa’s friends.

Tim: Oh. Hmm. Blimey. Actually, thoug, I’ve just realised there is a way this could have been improved – key change at 2:32. Yes – that’s the sort of mood I’m in.

Tom: I’m not sure I can trust your judgment at the minute.