White Noise

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Leaving behind a bit their fascination with Air and expanding past their New Order influence, Alpinestars explore so many inspirations on White Noise that it's almost hard to keep up. Awash in keyboards, electronic gadgets, and traditional instrumentation, the album sounds like it would be just as at home in 2002 as it would in 1992 or even 3002. The keys to the album's success are that Alpinestars hit no wrong notes and that they never take themselves too seriously. Virtually every song displays its inspirations on its sleeve, whether it's the electronic pop and diva vocals of the Electronic sound-alike "Vital Love Disciple," the Camouflage in a blender with Pet Shop Boys dark vibes of "NuSEX City," or the Ian Brown meets electro-clash soul-saving expedition "Snow Patrol (Part 1)." They clearly know when and how to inject variation into the mix, as witnessed by Placebo mainman Brian Moloko's caustic guest vocals about a "carbon kid with a sinister diagram" on "Carbon Kid." The tender acoustic guitars of "Brotherhood" and "New Ice Age" add brittle, beautiful flair to the lush, syrupy keyboard base. Whether subtly throwing Daft Punk-style disco electronica or celebrating love on the sweet bonus track "Partisan Song," Alpinestars always tread far above any sense of kitsch that might attempt to drag them down. The latter song might be the perfect companion to Aim's stunning "The Girl Who Fell Through the Ice." Though the Manchester duo might not be completely on par with the bands they emulate, they more than earn an A for effort while crafting some wonderful melodies along the way. [The two bonus tracks on the Digipak edition make it well worth the extra money.]

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