Review – AlphaCub

Album:  AlphaCub – EP
Release Date:  June 10, 2016
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Genre:   Electronic Alt. Rock

AlphaCub’s new self-titled EP, AlphaCub – EP, is the perfect companion piece for a soon-to-be-released John Hughes movie.  Drawing on the classic heavy hitters of electronic music, Marc-Antoine Robertson (AlphaCub, respectively) has created a contemporary version of a classic electronica-rock sound.

The first track “Friends” opens with slight, steamed cymbals and clear, rounded electronic sounds, mixed with a tinge of a NIN bass line.  “Friends” is a modern take on the ‘80s pop electronic sound, with a dash of Joy Division, broken up by Moby influenced guitar riffs.  The chime sound seems to ring from ‘86, juxtaposed with a ‘90s bass beat.   The chorus is respectfully right from the Depeche Mode playbook, from the repeating lyrics to the upward intervals in the vocal line.  In his lower vocal register, Robertson has a tone reminiscent of Dave Gahan, smooth and open, but with less of an English accent.

“Comet” continues with Moby teaming up with Depeche Mode writing a bonus track for The Last Starfighter soundtrack, in the best way possible. “Comet” starts quick and excels from there, complete with echoed finger snaps and various rhythmic vocal tracks.  In a slightly higher vocal register, Robertson sounds like a less self-deprecating Robert Smith, belting out anthemic sci-fi lyrics.  If not used for The Last Starfighter, definitely a song for an apocalyptic John Carpenter movie, perhaps They Live mixed with Dark Star.  The solo vocal line closes the song with an AWOLNATION “Sail” moment using an edgy, distressed voice of impending urgency.

“Fighting” is a slower tempo tune which cleverly changes pace by subtly increasing bass movement and drum beats.  The chorus opens to an uplifting, but not overdone, motivational moment where “reluctant heroes [are] welcome.”  The bridge continues the gentle rally cry by calling upon the quiet misfits: “Listen all you castaways / I’ve got something you’d appreciate / tie your lover down to something / Listen all you counterfeits / the stronger arm often takes it / to tie your lover down to something / before you wind up like this.”  Here the truly knowledgeable know to protect their loved ones from the siren song, to have the strength to momentarily “tie your lover down” to save them from involuntarily, and uncontrollably, dashing themselves against the raging waves and beckoning rocks. Often the castaways are truly the ones who can navigate life’s rough waters.

“Can’t Stand Still” has a great dirty ostinato rhythm that becomes doubled with its clean sounding counterpoint.  Distinct, deep bass lines and Robert Smith meets New Order vocals.  Depths of layered sounds creates a rich arrangement, with ever-transitioning background effects.  Solid production and clear audibility throughout.

Production wise AlphaCub – EP is a consistently clean album, every part clearly stated and well balanced.  Great use of differing rhythmic sounds and changing effects to keep listeners’ interests and create sound variations.

“Over My Dead Body” closes the disk with a recap of the album’s strongest points, a redux compressed into a mid-tempo jam.  The opening is a great Vangelis inspired idea with a crescendo of keyboard sounds and soft muttering voices.  Solid vocals, with a tinge of Morrisey when “he may have taken someone’s life”, and an array of changing ambient MGMT “Time to Pretend” type effects, mixed with a consistent, solid song arrangement, and differing tonal elements.  Haunting, eerie, and pleasant, “Over My Dead Body” transitions the loop back perfectly to track one for programmed repeat listeners.

With a mix of the strongest influences of English, Canadian and American electronica, AlphaCub is a refreshing new voice leaving his mark on the current electronic pop rock scene.

Check out AlphaCub – EP, distributed through Culvert Music / Universal Music, on Soundcloud, Spotify and itunes. 

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