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Alpha | Stargazing | review | electro | Lollipop
Stargazing (Special Edition) (Nettwerk)
by Tim Den
While Alpha's last offering, '01's The Impossible Thrill, made quite an impression on my then-hunger for chill-out vintage lounge, it did not age as well as I thought it would. With repeated listens, the songs seem to fall apart at the seams, with components floating in separate directions and the whole a sprawled out mess (however beautiful the mess). With their latest, however, the group has pulled it together. Stargazing (Special Edition) has cohesion and a slow-burning eroticism as well as Alpha's trademark '70s AM gold popcraft, capturing both the Bacharachian mood as well as the songs.
Keeping things eclectic by inserting irreverent instrumentals ("Sleepdust," "As Far as You Can," "Horseshit," and "Roy") certainly helped, as The Impossible Thrill was sometimes bogged down by its complacent uniformity. Stargazing (Special Edition) gives you lullabies one moment ("Once Round Town"), booty shakes the next ("The Things You Might"), and even an elastic, unsettling romp ("Vers Toi") toward the end. The only thing it could've benfited from would've been the removal of new vocalist Kelvin Swaybe's entries ("Elvis" and "I Just Wanna Make You"), where the singer stumbles through faux-classic soul singer clichés with transparency and no conviction.
But, as always, the other singers shine though, particularly Martin Barnard, whose contributions highlight Stargazing (Special Edition) with puppy-eyed charm ("Lipstick From the Asylum" and "Saturn in Rain" are two of the album's best). Let's not forget mainstay Helen White either, who turns in the most ice-melting performance with "Blue Autumn."
All in all, Stargazing (Special Edition) sees Alpha redeem their worth by showing that, not only can they emulate an era's sound and feel, they can pen the tunes as well.
(8730 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 304 Beverly Hills, CA 90211)