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Alphabet Saints

Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  

Raptureland, the debut album from Alphabet Saints, finds singer Robert Christie crooning his synth-driven pop dreams, albeit with the odd Suicide influence here and the occasional spot of weirdness there. It opens strongly with European Girl as Christie recalls his travels over some droney Suicide sounds and shimmering guitar, although the vocals bring Paul Haig to mind rather than Alan Vega. At the risk of upsetting those involved, Jessica's Heartbreak surprisingly opens like M People's Moving On Up before an insistent beat enters and Lucy Castro's backing vocals augment an Iggy in Berlin-like drawl on the poppy chorus, whilst Let Your Hair Down is a real toe-tapper thanks to their drummer, Hami, who has also been keeping himself busy with Solus 3 and Lunar Dunes of late.

Things move slightly more left-field with the heavily reverbed spoken word title track and My Last Desire, which features muffled vocals over a piano and choir-like voices before some thumping percussion bursts in half way. It's all strangely moving. Things then veer off into a place that resembles Teardrop Explodes' Wilder territory, not just because of the horn sounds but also due to some Great Dominions-like percussive noises. The highlight of the set for me.

What's In The Cat (Is In The Kitten) is a lighter affair where bouncy 60s bubblegum meets 80s synth-pop head on, but Helpless Victim is another spoken word number and isn't a million miles away from some of the material that Paul Simpson has given us of late c/o his reformed Wild Swans. Fling is another where Paul Haig springs to mind one, sounding like something that would have fitted in well on one of his early solo albums like The Warp Of Pure Fun, albeit with an almost military beat. Love Or Nothing is pure 80s all tinkly synths over a programmed bassline and dancey beats before a piano adds a more maudlin backdrop for George Pringle to tell us that the gods are angry and that they have spoken. That probably reads pretty pretentiously on the page, especially if I tell you that Christie then returns and acts all mysterious as he tells us about "a figure darting through a door", but it works.

The Map is arguably one spoken word number too many, although the way the violins screech and the Velvets-like tom toms gather momentum provides a certain tension before the pay off as Christie, backed by Castro's eerie voice, starts crooning "ten thousand kisses on your throat". I'm not sure what he's on about to be honest, but it leaves you with an uneasy feeling all the same. Raptureland ends with Carry On Marianne, where Suicide's Cheree Cheree meets Baby Bird's Goodnight, with some sampled backing vocals adding extra flavour. Christie veers from looking back to pleading for better things, but there's a mournful quality to his voice that suggests that he knows that this is useless optimism on his behalf. An excellent way to conclude an impressive debut...

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