Generic is such a loaded word in music. It was one of the first words that came to mind when I first listened to Alphabet Backwards, yet, it did not stop me from enjoying them at all. With my reviewer hat on it’s easy to just look for something which is pushing the boundaries the entire time and hang my hopes on it but I just don’t see why that is always integral to creating enjoyable music. As a little insight into my television habits, I recently watched Robert De Niro’s politically charged classic Taxi Driver, as well as, in a moment of weakness, Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake’s feel good romance Friends With Benefits. I know why one was culturally ‘good for me’, but with that said, I enjoyed Friends With Benefits a heck of a lot more. So what does that mean for music then? Somebody has to be pushing boundaries or creating music that makes you think, but this current trend of negativity towards music happy to reside with the confines of their genre can only polarise the mainstream and alternative spheres of music more can’t it? Some music is made just to be enjoyed. With that in mind then, I’d argue Alphabet Backwards’ British Explorer EP is one of the most accomplished and consistent debut EPs i’ve heard in some time. It could happily exist in yesteryears of Prozac indie’s/ twee pop’s heyday, and just because it doesn’t, should take away from its appeal.
You know you’re in good company when a band are hailing from Oxford. Positive stereotyping at its finest but it is really looking to be one of the new centres of alternative music in Britain with the likes of Foals, Trophy Wife and Jonquil all calling it home. As the potential love child of Los Campesinos! and Good Shoes though whilst amongst good company, influences remain elsewhere. Maybe it’s too easy to label bands as influence due to merely their set up, but the juxtaposition of grounded lyricism and the airy delivery of Steph and James’ vocal duo do bring back fond memories of ‘Drop It Doe Eyes’ or other such Campesinos classics. They don’t cling too dearly however to their influences, it would seem that they’re far too busy having a good time for their careers to be an ode to any previous acts.
Coming off the back of their White Russian EP, their 3 track British Explorer EP has been picking up support from, yes you guessed it, the Radio 6 Triumvirate of Tom Robinson, Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq (on a side note, a bands inclusion on Radio 6 is becoming less of an accolade and more of a requirement day by day!). Opening track Big Top plays out like a teenage love poem set to music, frivolous but nonetheless charming. Only the oh-so classy mention of an erection in its final phases rescue the lyrics from the precipice they made for themselves. Fortunately though the charming combination of acoustic guitars and synth were more than enough to mould a fun track, which was precisely what they set out to make. From the offset of Tonight ‘s guitar riff and reference to British Explorers, you know you’re in for a treat. And you’d be correct. Brilliantly delivered verses, whoops and group singing cement it within the bright and sunny indie realms they sought to create. Taller leads the short but exceptionally sweet EP out, with excitable guitar and glockenspiel combinations to a backdrop of synth and bass guitar that provides a fitting end.
Like it or loath it, it’s this sort of music that everyone listening to Taio Cruz, Akon and One Direction on shuffle think you’re actually listening to when it comes to ‘indie’, it’s also an important part of the constantly expanding universe of alternative music at the moment. This is a great example of that, and as generic as it may sound, is not only worth listening to, you’ll probably really enjoy it too. Check them out below.