In ‘Lowenva’, Alberteen have created a mesmerising, organic album that crinkles with visceral instruments – melodic crunchy bass, pounding percussion, rumbling guitars, riffing horns and deep laconic cool vocals. It is a sound that seems to encapsulate the recurring nautical and natural themes in the album – deserted coastal towns, windswept beaches and pounding waves.
There is a certain vintage timbre – an acoustic sparkle and an analogue clarity with a sparkling self-deprecatory archness.
Opening and title track ‘Lowenva’ is measured and haunting with cutting edge drums and a bubbling bass under razor sharp guitars and tinkling keys. The repeating phrase ‘it’s endless’ creates a mesmerising aura.
‘Unknown Entity’ has a funky soul feel about it with its rolling bass, outro horn stabs and guitar splashes – with an indelible air of melancholy and reflection. Absolutely groovy.
Vocals define Alberteen – used as a vocal percussion with distant sound effects, wailing and a storytelling style in ‘The Greenland Shark’ – with its delicious tongue-in-cheek lyrics and its baroque styling. Otherwise, when singing, deep and sonorous.
Musical variety is key throughout the album – the clarinet introduction and piano in instrumental ‘Station Hotel’ has a hint of cabaret and theatricality. ‘Breathe In’ has a mellow nautical sea shanty air with the defining horn sections and rolling piano adding a beautiful lustre. This slightly nautical theme continues in ‘Barbarossa’ and ‘Against Nature’ – utterly refreshing tracks with jauntiness and poise.
And when Alberteen slow down with balladary, they become imperial and imposing: ‘Baby, You’ve Served Your Time’ is exquisitely beautiful:
The album ends with ‘The Rec’ – layered choruses and a delicately picked guitar in under a minute – a quiet and reflective farewell.
If definition was needed, you could gently nudge Alberteen into a pen containing bands suchs Tindersticks, British Sea Power, Einstürzende Neubauten and Nick Cave: bands defined by their unbounded creativity and theatricality, leavened by a dry wit and an arch sense of self-perception and performance.
“Lowenva’ is cinema noir, entertaining and deeply refreshing. It has a vintage sound that is contemporary in its production and crystalline in delivery – whatever musical folder you drop them into, Alberteen stand alone and distinct.