The second album from Danish pop group Alphabeat sees the sextet take a journey back to the '90s to gain inspiration. There's a lot of glossy club-pop tunes here, but not half the charm of their brilliant debut.
What were (EMI offshoot) Charisma Records thinking, dropping a band like Alphabeat from their roster after just one album? OK, it's not like the Danes were multi-million selling in multiple territories, but after the release of their debut album in 2008, it was clear that the sextet had a knack for writing top-notch tunes with a capacity for pleasing all ages. It's not often that joyously uplifting pop tunes like 'Fascination' come along, after all.
Thankfully, their label blip didn't matter all that much, and a new deal with Polydor has produced their second release, 'The Beat Is…'. If 'This Is Alphabeat' was the band's pre-teen album, then this is their late-teens record. From the first song to the last, 'The Beat Is…' sounds both more serious and more grown-up; more accurately, it sounds like Anders, Stine and co. have discovered the '90s section of their older siblings' record collections.
Don't expect the happy-clappy mania that informed their debut – these songs are dominated by the sort of synthesiser lines that you'll have heard over a decade ago, on tracks by the likes of Snap, Haddaway and Corona. For those who loved the unbridled silliness of their previous material, it may be hard to connect with these somewhat over-produced tunes: the constant club-pop vibe and occasional use of AutoTune undoubtedly gives the album a generic, less charming feel, while experience hasn't necessarily buffed their lyrical nous, either (see 'Hole in My Heart''s "All I want to do / Is to do something with you").
Alphabeat may have lost some of their magic, but they admittedly make reparations with the damned catchy 'Heat Wave' and 'The Right Thing', two of the peppiest tunes on offer here. Unfortunately, it's not quite enough to prevent this album from being something of an anticlimax. A highly stylised one, sure - but a disappointment, nonetheless.