Review: Alpine’s ‘Yuck’ is deceptive and delicious

Alpine‘s new release, Yuck, is an album that is best experienced like a swimming pool. There’s no point dipping your toes in; you just have to throw yourself head first and let the coolness wash over you. From opening track Come On, the smooth and sophisticated melodies overlay an instrumental track that is both complex and sparse. You can float there, staring at the sky, letting the world drift away.

Alpine’s latest offering is cinematic in its approach, teetering around themes of love, uncertainty and self-doubt. With such heady and haunting instrumentation, it feels like it could almost be the posthumous soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. And that might not be a coincidence. The sextet evokes the dreamy soundscapes of French group Air who originally scored the film, and captivates listeners with similar sensual hooks.

First single, Foolish (which we have included in our top songs of the year so far, by the way,) uses the word “yuck” to describe the feeling of falling for someone despite all your best intentions and interests. Like so many moments on the album, it represents that confounding butterflies in the stomach feeling, and reminds listeners of the infectious indie pop that the group bought on their debut A is for Alpine. The video which cleverly debuted on April Fool’s Day was directed by Melbourne artist Tristan Jalleh. It perfectly furnishes the world that the song creates.

The ability to pen a catchy radio anthem is still alive and well with the band, but Yuck also brings a whole lot more. On Jellyfish, there are Bjork-like moments that quickly transition to something that could be found in a 90’s pop song (Merril Bainbridge’s I Could Be Your Lover strangely springs to mind). Guitarist and co-producer Christian O’Brien says: “Most of the music of the songs came from a textural or harmonic idea that I was curious about.  I wanted to see if certain things would work in a pop song.” This open-hearted experimentation is clear, and the compositions on the whole are a resounding success.

The vocals on the album are often minimalist in nature. Songs are allowed to breathe their own life without being smothered in complex ideas. Shy Fox encapsulates this with the echoing line “When you’re gone, the world seems brighter. And when you’re heart beats mine beats faster.” This self-assured deftness might just be what makes the album work so well. As a group nothing is overdone. Each moment is allowed to flow onto the next with relaxed ease.

The deluxe edition of the album features three bonus tracks So Long, Saturn and the wonderfully titled Bold Digger. While the first two bring little new, the final track brings a fun and rhythmic breath of fresh air to close out a stellar album.

In case you can’t tell, I am a big fan of this latest offering and can’t wait to see Alpine perform the new tracks live for the first time on their upcoming tour. You can buy the album in digital, CD and vinyl form here.