Carling Academy, Oxford
28th January 2008
If the words “Danish” and “pop” automatically make you think of Aqua, Junior Senior or Whigfield and sigh, fear not! Alphabeat are far less one-dimensional.
Poppy and jaunty yet more heartfelt than flippant, they flirt with Motown and soul, but not in any dodgy Toploader way; 10,000 Nights of Thunder reminds me of the Supremes despite Anders and Stine’s boy/girl vocal swooning, and What is Happening is a slower but still perfectly Radio 2-esque slice of pop-soul harmony. The single Fascination was Radio 1 playlisted, but there is better; they’re still innocent, kooky and Europoppy enough to get away with the lovely Boyfriend and its lyrics about holding hands, parents not wanting to know and whatnot.
Alphabeat are so infectiously upbeat that it’s difficult not to be charmed by them.
Palladium, on the other hand, are rather irritating. The fact that their best song (High 5) sounds like sixth formers trying to play a medley of Van Halen’s Jump and that Orson song raises alarm bells immediately.
The official line of them meeting on the session musician circuit and discovering a mutual love of Toto and Hall & Oates sounds very suspicious; the whole thing gives the distinct impression of being manufactured, especially considering their woeful, presumably Virgin-dictated look. I resent having had a childhood being told that particular acts were unfashionable only for them to resurface 20 years later via embarrassing, exploitative and frankly offensively cynical plagiarism with the sole purpose of lining record executives’ pockets. It’s the glam rock 50s revival all over again.
So it might not even be all Palladium’s fault, despite the posturing; their guitar/keyboard noodling (especially on the very AOR White Lady) shows they can play quite well. But for all the harmony and structure, they just can’t muster up memorable songs – which defeats the object, surely?