Friday, April 13th, 2018

Daphne and Celeste – Alarms

Do you wanna know what we really think about you?


Rebecca A. Gowns: I didn’t know anything about Daphne and Celeste, so I went on a quick Youtube journey, then compared their 1999/2000 sound to this one. I’m delighted that I’m now acquainted with both. I can’t think of a more approriate transformation for 2018 than preteen bops about playground chants turning into warm celestial synthpop. Perhaps we all could use about 20 years of silence.

Edward Okulicz: Only about 40% of the D&C album is actually a D&C album in the sense of being snotty, obnoxious fun with sticky choruses, and sadly this is from the other 60%. To be fair if it were snotty and obnoxious I wouldn’t be able to tell because I can’t understand a word of it. It’s more a nice showcase of Max Tundra’s dance influences and bleepy pop sensibilities, which are functional, but this song isn’t functional because it doesn’t really do anything to assault the memory centres. There’s better on the album than this.

Alfred Soto: I hear a song here: Cut Copy squelched rave dynamics and Eurythmics’ barely repressed stadium rock habits. But a good song needs verses, choruses, bridges. 

Katie Gill: If you’re going to make a comeback album around 18 or so years after your last album, while also trying as hard as you can to reinvent the image from that last album, this ridiculous and slightly overblown electronica track is a pretty damn good way to do it. At least you can dance to it.

Micha Cavaseno: On one hand the D&C comeback is nice and intriguing for a brief consideration of “Oh wow, instead of being teen goofballs, they’re now adult goofs who are excessively into nerdy reference points,” the same way it’s amusing to remember the time Debbie Gibson was palling around with Redd Kross and the Circle Jerks in the 90s. Ultimately however, all that you’ve gotten are half-baked retro synth smears and quick cash-ins for a laugh, which are so inessential even the record knows it. All the same, “Alarms” is cute enough to spin one time.

Will Adams: Like a Shepard tone turned into an electropop song, “Alarms” is caught in a state of perpetual rising, building toward a peak but never quite reaching it. Fortunately there are still enough enticing elements to notice while stuck in the loop: scalar choir hook, angular chord progression, vocal puree and piles of synths all sidechained to a slamming kick.

Katherine St Asaph: Consider the pop Overton window: the amount of production weirdness and general alt-ishness that’s considered normal in pop music at any given time. Except really, it’s more like an Overton transom — once a song reaches a certain amount of years old, people retroactively label it some variation of “generic radio music.” So Daphne and Celeste’s genuinely strange “You and I Alone,” their first Max Tundra collaboration, is called “a reasonably straightforward electro-funk love song” in the Guardian. Save the World is much the same, and I should hate it, since it’s arguably the PC Music thing where an auteur producer “salvages” some artist from disposable-popland and leeches away her (always her) vibrancy and personality, while she sassily intones and he reaps the credit. But I’ve managed to avoid any irritating Max Tundra interviews — mostly because he hasn’t done any, where Daphne and Celeste have done lots. And while D&C’s old music sure was bratty, it wasn’t voicey like, say, Shampoo; their most distinctive moment was an Alice Cooper cover. More importantly, “Alarms” is celestial and buoyant and just a tiny bit wistful, a slow-motion spaceship launch out of a suburban bedroom. Inevitably there’s a self-conscious winking about how clever it is to give wordy, arty lyrics to the “U.G.L.Y.” vocalists; also, “trapped in a computer game” is a little on-the-nose for something that already sounds like the SimCity 2000 soundtrack. But they’re good at this, and have an album more of this plus a merciless owning of Ed Sheeran, so I’ll call it a net good.

Reader average: [9] (3 votes)

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One Response to “Daphne and Celeste – Alarms”

  1. “But a good song needs verses, choruses, bridges.” Yeah, no.