Alphabeat, King's College SU, London
Tuesday 06 May 2008
I had high hopes for this. As a band dedicated to producing "100 per cent sunshine-fuelled pop", these Danes should have been right up my street. I've not stopped dancing around to "Fascination", the second UK single from the band, since it was released in March, and they cite Yazoo and AC/DC (secret favourites of mine) as sources of inspiration.
The singer Anders SG introduced the group with the refreshingly simple: "We are from Denmark, and we play pop music." They didn't look much like your standard manufactured pop band, though. Clutching a host of instruments and sporting offbeat Eighties clothes, Alphabeat are clearly a little bit different.
Unfortunately this alternative approach can be a bit hit-and-miss. While the female lead, Stine Bramsen, has a pitch-perfect pop voice – not to mention a cute elfin hairstyle – opening songs "Fantastic Six" and "Go-Go" were dull and disappointing. Luckily, the brilliant third track "10,000 Nights of Thunder" had an uplifting melody and fun, unpretentious lyrics; it had everyone dancing, while references to famous pop songs made for instant recognition. "The Wuthering Heights/ And the stormy nights/ You give me 10,000 nights of thunder/ But I will give them all back to you". Unashamedly happy, this catchy song has little in common with the tortured wailings of a big-haired Kate Bush. This is what we had come to hear.
Sadly the set took a bit of a downturn after. Bland and forgettable, "My Body" bore little resemblance to the catchy, kitsch tones of the group's best songs. While the lead vocalists' harmonies are often reminiscent of Abba, a group with which they cannot avoid comparison, the singers seem to lack the chemistry or emotion needed to carry off slower numbers. Things looked up a little with the upbeat "Boyfriend", whose droll lyrics include the warning, "Don't you touch my boyfriend/ He's not your boyfriend/ He's mine".
While their short performance may have been variable, Alphabeat certainly ended on a high, with the brilliant "Fascination". A classic pop song in the making, "Fascination" starts out impossibly high-octane and then gathers pace, creating a euphoric mood that had everyone dancing and grinning. At times like this, the group had an infectious energy, mainly due to their frontman, who threw himself around like a madman, dripping in sweat and wholly immersed in the music.
The Copenhagen band say that their ambition is to get everyone dancing to their music for an hour a day. If there's more where this song came from, they might just manage it.
Touring to 12 June (www.thisisalphabeat.com)
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