The trouble with reinventing the wheel is it usually means a bumpy ride for someone. Sometimes it’s better to just hit cruise control and concentrate on a smooth well-executed ride. French trio Alexandr forge modern pop/rock with a nod to well-crafted songs of the past. Singer Stephen Fozard’s voice resides in that comforting register inhabited by Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Ian Broudie (Lightning Seeds) and Tony Mansfield (New Muzik). Both he and guitarist Nick were born in France to English parents, so there’s nary a continental drift to his vocals.
‘Change’ channels Tears For Fears, not just in song-name but in its chiming guitars and vocal arrangements. ‘Stop Rolling the Dice’ (with its Balearic breakdown) and ‘Not Giving Up’ evoke the blissed-out euphoria of The Beloved, and elsewhere there are shades of New Order (‘Dreaming’) and Depeche Mode (‘Read In My Eyes’).
There is the odd bump in the road; ‘B.O.Y. (Because of You)’ sails so close to Pet Shop Boys that it may struggle to deflect accusations of parody, but it’s a blip in an otherwise accomplished, immaculately produced collection of tunes that linger in the ears and pleasantly evoke 90s baggy and 80s pop.
Album closer, ‘The Center of the Universe’ begins with a Gallagher-esque guitar adrift in Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’ but quickly recalibrates into Porcupine Tree territory.
So if you hanker for well-crafted pop that harks back to a time when melody ranked higher than Twitter likes, this could be just the album for you to fall in love with. Aloners to the World is released 26th May on Hot Puma Records.