It’s rare we experience a debut album of this caliber. But for ALASKALASKA, The Dots erase all lines and boundaries to the pop lexicon and intently produce brilliance. This is not your normal modus operandi of pop music.
There are moments in this album that are challenging, but that challenge lies within yourself to comprehend its artistic purpose. “Sweat” strips away depth and creates a minimal musical perception of bedroom fantasy that further eliminates the surface of the song. What is left is Lucinda Duarte-Holman, half-singing, half-voicing into the darkness—vulnerable. It stops you in your tracks and feels uncomfortable. Are we overstepping barriers here? Being the voyeur, half of you latches on to the moment while the other half feels like you are trespassing.
What ALASKALASKA is good at is creating an intoxicating effect in various ways and means. It leads you down different avenues of emotion: elation to anxiety, celebration and fear. The title track creates a synthetic dizzying effect to what is perceived as a pop song yet imposes with angularity and jazz-paced tempos led by Fraser Smith’s saxophone. Add in Duarte-Holman’s syncopated sincerity, I cannot cite a better example of lyrical ingenuity to human nature.
ALASKALASKA – Moon
“Moon” is where the band shines. They create a duality between pop art and dance floor radiance. Fraser Reiley’s work to make something exotic and magnetic turns into anxious prose from Duarte-Holman all wrapped around cyclic nature bouncing back and forth from the lyrics to the music. The way she emanates consonants and vowels feels ritualistic. The experimental nature of the group shows how outside of the spectrum they are to their South London environment. Yet, this idiom could easily co-exist just about anywhere.
If The Dots tells us anything, it’s that ALASKALASKA has no intention of fitting in. With limited takes and balance between recording in Fraser’s living room and a more conventional studio, you feel its spontaneity and power beyond the polish. This album is as much about the beauty of the moment as it is about the allure of the self despite imperfections. And what I find exciting is that this album gives me no indication of where the band could go from here. In the meantime, The Dots is magnificent.