It may be backwards, but that doesn’t stop it working. In the nicest way possible, unassuming Manchester duo [a]Alpinestars[/a] virtually seem part of the wallpaper at the city’s grooviest gay night, Homo Electric. It’s alarming how well they fit in, how seamlessly their first and last songs blend into the psychedelic dance tracks blaring from the club’s speakers. But then, they did form solely to play this slot.
After five years of guitar bands, Glyn Thomas and Richard Woolgar have obviously chosen a less painful route. Legend has it that earlier this year Homo Electric gave the pair a week to produce a live soundtrack to the night, something to kick-start the evening that wouldn’t require clubbers to stand and watch guitar solos. Since then, they’ve signed to local label Faith And Hope, releasing two EPs – the most recent of which was Steve Lamacq‘s [I]Evening Session[/I] single of the week.
Glyn and Richard don’t make the fuss they could about their brilliant clash of dance and electronic pop. They barely acknowledge the crowd – perhaps because the feeling’s mutual – but bow their heads and get on with what they came for. At times, they’re bent double fiddling with the many keyboards and samplers onstage, but paradoxically it’s proof of their success when no-one cares that there’s not much to watch.
Songs like ‘Interlaken’ (from their debut EP) more than compensate anyway. With Richard on rare vocal duties, emitting distorted snatches of repeated, robotic lyrics, [a]Alpinestars[/a] suddenly sound like Kraftwerk remixed by The Chemical Brothers. They know they can produce perfectly formed chunks of electronic wizardry but the challenge obviously lies in making them into the best block rockin’ pop songs around too. That’s why everyone here wants to dance. And that’s why you should hope that, whatever the job description, [a]Alpinestars[/a] will venture beyond Manchester next year.