The Beat Is...
For the same reason I celebrate my own existence—the idea of “getting out” of whatever dead-end birth town you once inhabited—Alphabeat make me cheer. Born and raised way off the major highway on Denmark’s lone peninsula (the country is otherwise fully comprised of islands), these young folks not only have the same Jutland accent as my partner; they took off for London after their first album, This Is Alphabeat, created a substantial buzz in the UK. As well it should have. Six friends from a small town who “made it” is admittedly an easy narrative to enjoy. Most Danish guys I know are named Anders, Rasmus, or Morten, and of the five guys in Alphabeat, three are named Anders (and the other two are Troels and, yes, a guy named Rasmus). That all six band members—including lone female Stine—are absolutely adorable and make joyously happy music that appeals to the Danish queer community makes it that much easier to get in their corner.
The Spell—the album, not just the single—has been out in Denmark since October, and as always, the country-specific release varies from the wider released UK version of the album, which is named for the album’s second single, The Beat Is.... Admittedly, as This Is Alphabeat was a sleeper hit made up of cutesy, tambourine- and hand clap-heavy songs about boyfriends, there has been backlash against the band’s more manufactured, mainstream pop sound. Not every track on the album is a winner, but the good ones make up for the lackluster efforts. My testament is this: with “The Spell” showing up everywhere from television commercials to ring tones in the past six months, I have yet to tire of it. What can I say? I like hearing about magical love in a Jutlandish Danish accent. The video will also charm your socks off.
The album’s third song “DJ” is the kind of song that makes me literally leap onto my bike and pedal twice as fast down to the grocery store. Infectious pop at its best, it makes the most mundane chores seem like a total party under a sturdy set of earbuds. I admittedly have a soft spot for pop tracks that pay homage to the often under-appreciated DJ, and the Alphabeat tribute is a cold Danish winter inspiration as much as it’s a club-ready hit.
“Heatwave,” one of my dancey favorites, includes Stine’s guttural vocals in a Britney Spears-esque series of “woah-oh-oh”s. This is a compliment, as the band members are big Brit-Brit fans.
“Heart Failure,” a syncopated single waiting to emerge, questions whether a new lover can handle—or even heal—his pursuit’s broken heart, previously damaged by another. It also includes the catchy line: “I sit on fences/with my/defenses.” When you consider sitting on a fence, do you immediately think someone means they are indecisive, or do you conjure images of cowboys, sitting on the split rail, gazing into the distance? I once asked a friend what she would think about if she had a fence to sit on. “I’d just stare,” she said. “That’s what you do on the fence.” Indeed.
If you’re stateside and need a fun '80s pop fix, pay to download the import or ask a friendly local record store clerk to put in an order. They might shake their heads at your Wonky Pop request, but you’re the one who gets to go home and shake something else.