And EUROPOP MONDAY concludes with what must be our least expected top 10 entrant so far this year…
Jessica Popper: Alphabeat’s new album campaign hasn’t been the greatest success, but it’s not for lack of brilliance. The new songs have a more traditional Europop sound (a surprise considering it’s their first album since their UK breakthrough) with acts such as Ace of Base and Snap as major influences, and mostly feature only female singer Stine’s vocals. However, “Hole in My Heart” returns to the male/female duet format of the band’s early hits, and as such revives the spark that allowed Alphabeat to overcome the British apathy toward Scandinavian pop music.
Martin Skidmore: I still can’t see it. The ravey music is dated and a little half-hearted, though I quite like the piano riff; but the problem is the singing. She’s okay, if lacking a little in force and energy, but he’s terrible, weak and flat. Punch it up a bit and get some better singers, and it could be fun in a slightly pointlessly retro way.
Chuck Eddy: They went from aping the early ’80s when they started to late ’80s last year, right? Guessing this is their leap into ’90s, after house music lost its personality. Definitely sounds like a leap into anonymity either way. Dullest single I’ve heard by them, though I may well have missed a few. But that said, it still sounds competent.
Pete Baran: I think it’s a pity that Alphabeat’s time machine of pop appears to have moved to an era that their fans seem to despise, because not only are the nostalgic chops of “Hole In My Heart” very well observed, but it is coupled to a terrific song. Like much on The Beat Is, it takes a couple of listens to readjust your ears to the nineties rave piano and staccato beats, but at the heart of the track is a deceptively simple duet. With no hole in it.
Edward Okulicz: Here, Alphabeat’s 90s-dance revivalism-cum-fetishism hits the sweet spot. This is an infectiously bittersweet romp that nails the retro sound they’re aiming for as well as the blue emotional tinges that might even put it a leg up over the average 90s Eurohouse classic. And unlike their last single, the song makes smart use of its two vocalists this time — Anders’ complete wimpiness casts him as an ideal foil for Stine’s bell-clear dance diva sirenism. And its cheesy presets and forceful melody go straight for the heart and the jugular.
Matt Cibula: I keep falling for these kinds of singles. I think it means I have AWESOME taste.
John Seroff: This is what I remember Ace of Base sounding like when I was sixteen: simple, but limitless and thickly erotic in ways that I’m not yet old enough to understand. I daresay this will hold up a bit better: I love that it’s about a minute too long; I love the dopey Casiotone keys; I love the altimeter slide whistle and the Snap drum presets; I love that the male voice is incredibly goony and the female voice is so utterly “U Got the Look” other; I love the ring of honesty on the refrain of “all I wanna do is do something with you”, so weirdly pure and clear and really, really real. I’m a bit unsure where the Jukebox hive mind will side here, but yeah. I love this.