With their 2004 debut, 'Made From Sand', Alphastates became one of the most underrated bands on the Irish music scene, not only because they were ahead of their peers in terms of mixing guitar driven indie with electro pop sounds, but also because of their dark fragility and beautifully truthful lyrics. Now that the scene's caught up to them, 'Human Nature' sees Alphastates develop that sound and delve further into the realm of danceable pop music.
Catherine Dowling's sultry haze of a voice is the defining and pre-eminent feature, as ever, as it shifts and softly cracks above both catchy hooks and soft vibes. The bassy synth hook of lead single 'Champagne Glass' vindicates its success on the dancefloors of New York, while the rough-edged riff and distorted punk guitars of 'The Record Machine' show that the band formerly known as Babelfish still know how to rock out.
But it's the stark contrast between these upbeat pop numbers and the mellower, more reflective tracks, which ooze an introspective aching, that makes 'Human Nature' an album with real depth. The plonking synths, building strings and delayed vocals of 'Swimming' construct the perfect watery backdrop for its subject matter, while atmospheric closer 'Comfort in Silence' ambles from its droning instrumental opening through discreet vocal passageways with ease and grace. If only more Irish bands had this kind of range.