21 Oct 2019
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Alae - Album Review: Henry St

27 Oct 2018 // A review by Rupa Kelly

Henry St is the debut LP from NZ indie-folk band Alae. After the success of their first self-titled EP Alae and the subsequent tour they undertook coupled with the release of their singles Too Strung Up and Stone Cold, Alae entered the studio to work on their first full length album.

The strengths of the album play out more apparently in the first half of the album, the first few tracks present this introspective and thoughtful opening before moving forward in a comforting groove into Home and the breakout singles Stone Cold and Too Strung Up. As a musical block, the intricacies and musicality of the first 7 songs cannot be celebrated enough.

Opening with Back in Town, Alae starts the 12-track album off on a softer, minimalistic note. The track tells the story of children left behind by parents and a raw emotional sincerity and sets the tone for the rest of the album, though not in the expected way. It builds in intensity with the next track, Sunrise/Sunfall which is in my view the strongest piece on the album. I'm an absolute sucker for beat switches and two-part songs, a narrative is better explored with contrast and different approaches to the subject. The first half is a flowing cosy loving piece, it rolls like smoke from a fireplace on a winter's morning, before fading into reflective solo piano melody which tiptoes lightly and is joined by an acoustic guitar, painting a beautiful scene of comfort and dense emotion.

Super Imposition Projection Boy follows on next, representing the start of what feels like the traditional song structure section of the album. The drums and the rhythm of the acoustic guitar carry this song, providing a dancefloor that the melodies from the rest of the instruments can groove on. Home is tied tightly around a punchy beat offered by the drums and features vocals that are both ballady bellowing and a delightfully high-pitched approach not heard elsewhere on the album, which is surprising as they are a stellar addition to the deeper tones of the instrumentation.

Stone Cold and Too Strung Up are the two singles that have gained the most attention to the band, Too Strung Up currently sitting at 2.1 million streams on Spotify. It's easy to understand why, Stone Cold's hook is fantastic, the lyrics bouncing along the bass line with the accompaniment of a well-placed horn section that really makes the track pump.

The latter half of the album takes on a more traditional approach to the acoustic indie genre, using more tried and true strong structure in a few of the songs. But that’s not to say that the album is in anyway bad in the second half, from the jaunty piano tune and catchy hook of I'm Still Waiting, to the closing tracks return to the cosy vibe from the first two songs, the album concludes itself smoothly and beautifully.

Henry St captures a melodic and gorgeous vibe through-out, its tracks are woven together on piano and guitar melodies which brings a sense of cohesion to the whole album while simultaneously each track has its own contained narrative and uniqueness. Henry St is a strong debut from Alae, showing the potential they have to write a range of interesting and compelling music. You can catch Alae as they embark on a NZ tour with dates all over the country.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Alae

Alae. It’s a word that means nothing to you at the moment, and that’s a good thing. But that will change.

They’re a fresh, Kiwi duo with a unique sound that needs to be experienced to be understood. alae is what you get when you mix Alex Farrell-Davey and Allister Meffan; two old high school mates who are talented musicians in their own right, but when they come together, it’s something else entirely.

Alae aren’t the status quo, they’re not sugar-coated or created in a lab - they got together because, for them, jamming together just feels right. And you'll feel that in everything you hear.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Alae

Releases

Henry St
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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