From track one, they will arouse your amused curiosity, with lyrics that are simple yet fascinating, melancholic yet funny, and with smartly swerving rhythmic stop-start tricks that are just on the right side of too adventurous.
Things are gonna change/ And not for better/ Don't know what it means to me/ But it's hopeless, hopeless. (Take a listen this by clicking the first track in the Clips from the CD box on the left hand side.)
Rejoicing in clean, weightless sounds, the delicious songs by this super cool French band slide into your ears, a combination of familiar pop tricks (from classic soul, Steely Dan-like soft rock, R 'n B and even disco!) blended to a lithe, muscular finish.Frontman Thomas Mars's crisp and slightly accented voice sounds sweetly sexual, stylised like a pose performed for a good fragrance advert. It's recorded so close to the mic that you can hear his lips part before he sings You're starting to fall / fall in a deeper state on the rhythmic chanting before the gentle instrumental storm on "Victim of the crime".
The songs together make the closest thing imaginable to a flawless pop album, which is a truly beautiful thing. Ironically, no one song stands out as an obvious "pop hit". Although the melodies are catchy, they're not designed to be drunkenly sung by those without musical finesse. So when it comes to making it really big it's... er... it's "hopeless hopeless".
The low key complexity of the songs means they don't wear out easily though. You're more likely to listen to a song twice - wondering "what IS it about that moment that I just can't get enough of?" - than to skip through to your favourite.
- Jean Barker
WHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID:
If you were trying to paint a descriptive picture, then their lead singer's voice would top your list of adjectives. Blended against creme fraiche harmonies and treated with subtle filters, it straddles each song with enough personality to carry the project, although you can't help feeling stronger melodies might have helped.- Paul Tierney from Amazon.co.uk
There's something admirable about a record that proves it's possible to remove grit from adult contemporary pop.- Dominique Leone from Pitchforkmedia.com
Sometimes, when the sun is hot and the sky is blue, only the clearest, cleanest, most subtly bittersweet pop music will do, and Alphabetical is the perfect record for the coming summer.- Nick Southall for Stylus Magazine
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