One of my tips for 2019, ALASKALASKA have announced details of their debut album The Dots – set for release via Marathon Artists on 3 May 2019. The announcement comes accompanied by the album’s lead single ‘Moon’ and its vibrant visuals directed by Elliot Arndt, watch it below.
Singer, guitarist and principal songwriter Lucinda Duarte-Holman explains the root of the album’s lead single: “‘Moon’ is an account of the monthly, cyclical ebbs and flows (pun intended) of my emotional and physical well being. It is an insight into my neurosis. ‘Moon’ is about PMS.” The single and its mesmeric video are the perfect introduction to The Dots’ fluid, intelligent and wholly unique musicality. Blurring the lines between electro pop and jazz flecked artful sounds, the imperious ‘Moon’ is threaded with the push and pull of Lucinda Duarte-Holman’s vocals that are in parts addictive and playful and in others evocative.
Headed by Duarte-Holman and bassist and producer Fraser Rieley, ALASKALASKA formed in 2016 after Duarte-Holman introduced Rieley to her friends Calum Duncan (guitarist), Fraser Smith (saxophonist), and Gethin Jones (drummer). The resulting recordings – early self-titled EP and 2018 singles ‘Meateater’ and ‘Monster’ – combined an appreciation for pop songwriting form with a myriad of sounds, tastes and styles. Support slots with fellow genre-dodgers Alvvays, Cigarettes After Sex, Porches and Nilüfer Yanya soon followed.
“Not fitting neatly into either the post-punk explosion, which defined their South London home a few years back, or the more recent emergence of a future-facing jazz underground, ALASKALASKA dodged the area’s typicalities. The lyrical potency of the former and the languid, freeform attitude of the latter can be felt across The Dots, but ALASKALASKA paint those influences in their own broad brushstrokes in the same way as Björk, Kate Bush, Arca or Fever Ray before them.”
ALASKALASKA will release The Dots on 3 May before heading out once again on a headline tour of the U.K. – which includes a homecoming show at Omeara on 15 May.
“You’re constantly comparing yourself to other people, whether it’s people on TV, or social media,” says producer Fraser Rieley. “What other people’s expectations of you are. It’s hard to not think about it.”
“The frustrating thing is,” says principal songwriter Lucinda Duarte-Holman of that present-day desire to compare and contrast yourself to others’ successes, “is that it’s not important at all! But it’s in your face all the time.”
“For most of the songs, we build on guides that we had – rough, scratchy demos,” Rieley explains, “a fair bit of the audio is taken straight from them, because we got things that we liked, and didn’t think we could reproduce.” It’s a process the helps The Dots retain its humanity, rather than losing it to over-polishing. “If it works, why get rid of it? It felt important to keep that element of it,” says Rieley. “Sometimes there’s a beauty in the roughness,” adds Duarte-Holman. “We all really enjoy the rough edges – the bits that make it growl.”
The Dots is testament to the beauty of those more roughed-up elements. From the dirty, dingy intimacies of the human condition, to the musical happy accidents and living room recordings that made it to the final record, it’s a release that presents ALASKALASKA as masters of twisting the day-to-day into something dazzling. “I think that’s always the most interesting stuff,” admits Rieley, “Where there’s an accessibility to it, but something else that confuses you, or challenges you.”
See ALASKALASKA live at the following dates:
14 May | The Green Door Store, Brighton
15 May | Omeara, London
16 May | Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
17 May | Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
19 May | YES, Manchester
20 May | The Hug And Pint, Glasgow
24 Aug | Lost Village Festival, Lincolnshire
Photo credit: Elliott Arndt