Released today November 1 (how the heck is it November already…), ‘Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’ is the first album from the Danish sextet since 2012’s ‘Express Non Stop’. And it’s not before time. The album, available on digital download and streaming, CD, and vinyl, comprises 9 tracks of mostly upbeat pop, and in their own words,
“We’ve very much in our guts been trying to just find the good song, the quality song.”
And quality songs are definitely what they’ve given. Opening with ‘Shadows’, which was released last year as their comeback single, we are left with no doubts as to what Alphabeat are all about. It’s high energy, fun, and effusive. Second track, ‘I Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’, also released as a single, tells their story from the point of view of 30-somethings who have realised they no longer get what’s cool these days…not necessarily a bad thing. It wasn’t until Alphabet left their native Denmark, taking up residence in Hackney, East London, they discovered that the music they’d been playing actually had an audience, and they realised that perhaps, they were cool. All this is covered in song 5, my personal favourite, ‘Sing A Song’. The band tell the Alphabeat story from their very earliest days. As Stine said to us earlier this week,
“It feels really good for us too to be at a place in our lives and careers where we’re able to write that kind of stuff, we get moved by it ourselves when we sing it. Everything in it is true.”
Alphabeat cover a variety of genres across their new album, from the pure pop of ‘Shadows’, through to the country of ‘Goldmine’, and the 60s vibe of ‘Sometimes’. I commented to the band that it reminded me of ‘Mighty Quinn’ by Manfred Mann, but there’s also a folky aspect to it that makes me think of the music of The Seekers, as well as Peter, Paul, And Mary.
‘Now You Know’ is like the counter-point to ‘I Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’, and has a Beatles-esque harmony at the end (a la ‘Twist’n’Shout’). This wasn’t by accident:
“If I listen to say Kanye West, I like his style but it’s more like, I listen to it with my head – The Beatles I listen to with my heart. There were some Beatles references on our very first album, but the harmonising in ‘Now You Know’, that was a little nod to them.”
‘The Answer’, Anders SG’s favourite song from the new album, talks about how everyone knows who Alphabeat is; they can bring all the other bands in that they like, but the guy in the suit is no substitute for the real thing. And real it is. The band has left all the live, fun, noises on the album; there’s an energy that makes it more perfect than if they’d chosen to make it completely sterile and slick.
Final track, ‘I’d Rather Die’, sees Alphabeat get a little bit political: addressing the current state of the world – “too many people not enough food”. But perhaps, rather than focusing on the bad stuff all the time, maybe we should focus on the positive aspects – “there’s a shadow hanging over me and you / but if we have to sit and cry I think I’d rather die”. Because there *are* still positives in the world.
‘Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’, by Alphabeat, is out today November 1 and can be streamed and downloaded here. Alphabeat will next be in the UK in April 2020, and you can find further details and tickets here. Keep up to date with Alphabeat on their official website.