Alphabeat does not create the slick, urban dance routine music that has become synonymous with “pop music.” Instead, they sound like a bunch of giddy friends that got together and started to throw down sugary hooks in a basement somewhere. Alphabeat’s debut is chock full of the kind of quirky pop music that was made popular decades ago… boogie beats, dual voiced singing and a wallop of confectioner’s sugar. Remember the band Len and their hit “Steal My Sunshine” from the late nineties? If they had perfected the ideas they were working on, they may have sounded a bit like Alphabeat.
The record opens with the line “I was not looking for arty farty love,” from the instant pop/rock punch of “10,000 Nights of Thunder,” and it is a precursor of what’s to come. The album has not been created from tortured souls or manufactured to become a critic’s darling, so it may not seem on the surface to be anything special. But, anyone who brushes its jolly pop precision off as something trivial clearly does not know how difficult it is to write perfect pop melodies such as those found on “Fascination,” the album’s biggest hit so far. Although not every song on the record is quite up to par with its standouts, there is a trilogy of tracks late in the running order that clearly shows how amazing the band is at what they do. “Ocean Blue” follows in the footsteps of “Fascination” as a gorgeous duet between lead singers Anders SG and Stine Bramsen, while “Fantastic 6” is an absolute throwdown of a dance track. The insanely catchy whistling of “The Hours” should surely bolster that track to hit status. Even when the record slows down, such as on the hymnal closer “Nothing But My Baby” and the glam stomp of “Rubber Boots/Mackintosh,” with its hilarious refrain: “you should wear rubber, always wear rubber!”, it still proudly waves the pop flag.
More than any other release so far this year, Alphabeat revels in joy. Many albums profess to be party starters, but few actually are. From the bright colors of the album’s cover (depicting the almost-too-happy faces of the band) to the relentless energy found inside, this is pop music at its most kitschy, allowing it to become somehow timeless.