Ever have that dream where The Beta Band are trying to do Eighties new-wave but end up sat woozily around a camp-fire with indie-loving Space Invaders machines instead? Me neither. Which is why you should be pleased Alto 45 are here to show you what you’re missing. And yes, if their debut album ‘101101’ is anything to go by, you are missing out.
A breezy, hazy whirlpool of understated Casio-esque programming is what seems to underpin a lot of these songs, but the real charm lies in the sentiment they’re trying to put across, be it all floral and cutesy or, more likely, bitter and heartbroken. It’s also commendable how they can switch gear so often without losing a sense of continuity to the whole thing, even if in general the LP goes from crunchy interstellar synth-fi to slow, lulling indie-scapes. For instance, ‘Look Who You Know’ has the chiming guitar lines and pounding drum beats that suggest they’ve all suddenly ‘got’ Phil Spector, whilst immediately after it ‘Leaving Suburbia’ thrashes about in the tested quiet/loud manner, dizzy with its own feeling of unrequited love and desire to push that guitar pedal just a little bit harder. Some songs such as the banjo-tastic ‘Moses Gunn’ are so laid-back they’re almost comatose, but what they lack in energy they make up for in sheer moody magnificence. It’s best, though, when they snap, crackle and pop in all the right places, which in tunes like the sweet, synthetic pop brilliance of ‘Hospital Song’ and ‘The Plan’ is many right places indeed.
From the military drum beginning to the speak-and-spell ‘reprisal’ ending, from the lovelorn cries to the lullabies, this album is as subtly infectious as it is stealthily intoxicating. For those about to pop, but fancy a lie down too.
8Thomas Blatchford's Score