Early hours is the latest release from Kingston duo Alpines. Lead singer Catherine Pockson supplies husk-tastic power vocals to one half, and to the other Bob Matthews provides the reverb-drenched synths and trip hop-inspired beats. United, they create dark electro-pop songs comparable to Hurts.
Girl-boy duos have been cropping up everywhere in recent years with the appearance of bands such as Summer Camp and Slow Club being highlights. But, in such a wonderfully prolific but crowded scene, what sets Alpines apart from the crowd? Early Hours offers four songs, all showing off four relatively different aspects of the young Londoners’ musical abilities. ‘You Got Me Wrong’ opens the EP with gyrating electronic sounds, followed by some cleverly manipulated vocal samples, confirming that the name calling made by some to describe their sound as “intelligent pop” wouldn’t be too far off. Second track, ‘Changes’, switches the album down another notch of dark – it’s less dancey to what is a downtempo, and at times slightly dreary, EP in the first place.
An important element to Alpines is their ultra-chic image and music videos, not too dissimilar to L’Oreal adverts. Honestly, if you type their song ‘Cocoon’ into YouTube you’ll notice there are more comments asking what conditioner Pockson uses rather than comments actually related to the song. Obviously image is an important part to an acts overall package, but it seems at time there’s a bit too much style over substance maybe.
So to return to whether this is “intelligent pop” as such, it definitely oozes sophistication instrumentally and production-wise; lyrically and melodically, it’s as repetitive as a series of X Factor and a little unimaginative. Maybe a bit harsh, but then again, perhaps this repetitiveness is what makes songs such as ‘Hidden Love’ so catchy.
Despite some criticism, Alpines’ Early Hours EP is definitely worth a listen. It defiantly grows on you even if it didn’t scream out at you at first. But it still has that marmite curse: some will love, and some will hate it.