Forever a band worth taking the time out for, either with noise-cancelling headphones or high quality speakers in an otherwise silent room – Alaska & Aurora bring together some of their very best singles (alongside a plethora of new tracks) for this stunning album.
A Power In Love begins with the sound of the natural world – pristinely recorded, and accompanied by spoken word fragments that offer a little guidance as to what we’re about to experience. It’s a brief yet cinematic and immersive opener, and proves a fine encapsulation of the loving, contemplative qualities that pour through as things progress.
Crossroads follows and keeps things delicate, spacious and breathy, deeply considerate. You welcome the space as a crucial part of the process, the embrace – as opposed to getting impatient, awaiting movement and volume.
Alaska & Aurora have mastered the art of the space in which the song exists, and this quality is rare and one to be treasured. Add in sublime vocals that meander and vary in subtly soulful, seductive ways, with poignant lyrics, striking imagery, and organic musical progressions that blissfully lighten the weight of the world, and this entire album proves an absolute highlight from the year so far.
Usually I’ll write about a project purely from the first listen, perhaps editing with later listens. In this case, I found myself simply enjoy the project as I would a personal go-to. Each one of these songs feels like an instant hit, classic yet alternative, conceptually intersting, with pristine production. From the sounds of the natural world and the spoken sentiments of the opener, through the nostalgic big beat and Haim-esque melodic embrace of Undergrove, right on to the end – there’s so much that stands out.
A touch of uplifting dance-pop that is Dream Fever is followed by a smooth and seductive Azur. Then later we get an ambient, softly cinematic and nostalgic Just For A Day. Intimacy and memories, longing and love, a subtle progression that presents a hypnotic, shoulder-swaying kind of energy. The hook explodes into brighter realms, unexpectedly – a beautifully bold moment of anthem-like writing, perhaps a little unusual for the band, but a welcomed injection of satisfying melodic movement and contrast.
An unmistakable Pollyanna makes a blissful appearance during the latter half, ‘Running on nothing but toxic fumes, sugar-coating lies till they feel like the truth…’. Then we get another unexpected twist in the road, as an electro-pop and funk-soaked Blame injects an almost blues-rock-esque level of confidence and swagger. Great songwriting, another anthem – another welcomed change in direction, and a fine display of versatility.
Wanderlust too leans more towards the Americana realms – a well-written song, with a beautiful set-up, and powerful rising vocal passion from the lead singer.
Then we get a stripped-back yet increasingly immersive Soul and Body, leading us through a vocal realm of contemplation and intimacy united, to bring things to a mellow-paced yet powerfully expressive finish.
As stated earlier, this is easily the kind of album I’d choose to escape amidst for a long drive or at the end of a heavy day. Beautifully unique, intersting music and songwriting, balancing intensity and softness in a profound manner. Absolutely worth exploring. Remember the name.