Londons biggest synth-wave duo blossom at their album release party, Full Bloom.
Walking onto the stage in zebra print co-ords and snakeskin boots, Pip Millet and her band are a snazzy snapshot. The backing singers wear black slip dresses with long sleeve tops underneath, each wearing matching trainers and gold jewellery; big hoops and necklaces, a token of the Shoreditch scene.
Pip’s set is stripped back but stunning, it’s just Pip, her backing vocalists and a guitarist but that is more than enough. Her voice is warm, it drips over the sound system like honey, boasting soulfulness missing in the music scene. It’s powerful but not overwhelming, complimenting her poetically bashful stage presence and approach to lyricism. Pip is the less-jaded millennial akin to Amy Winehouse, singing of dark, melancholic love and good head.
As part of a scene that tells you to keep cool, not to bust a move for fear of looking stupid or uncool, the choreographed swaying of the dancers stir a stiff room into movement. Flowing through the set with ease, Pip sets a high standard as an opening act. Luckily, ALPINES are next up.
Filling out quickly over a period of 10 minutes, bands like ALPINE are the reason Shoreditch has become a melting pot of culture; the crowd is made up of trendy Shoreditch House types, Hackney art students, millennials, their parents, and everyone in-between. Their unifying banner being the release of their new album, In Bloom.
The London duo consists of producer Bob Matthews and artist Catherine Pockson; their sound is well crafted, understa. The predecessors to In Bloom, Oasis and Another River carry a similar theme, however, with their latest release it’s clear to see how the band have grown. Their growth is demonstrated by their ode to their eclectic tastes, as such influences as Lauren Hill, Frank Ocean and Prince are crafted into a singular sound, unique to the Kingston double.
For their 3rd Studio Album, ALPINES have carefully and purposefully tethered their art and music to a cause: global warming. This innovative move sees the duo utilise their platform for a good cause successfully.
Alongside their release is an accompanying gallery of art. A TV sits wearily in a corner, a silver backdrop is fronted by a simplistic chair, and floral collages are hung from a rack, leaving the viewer to immerse themselves into a world of artistry. Each piece holds a reminder of the fragility of earth, the environment. It’s hard to forget why they’re rooting to raise awareness and create change.
The stage looks more like a movie set. With a dusky blue-lit backdrop and flowers wrapped around the equipment, it looks like the stage from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged. As the lights lower, Bob Matthews takes to the stage, tucking himself behind a keyboard, almost immediately tapping the keys to produce ominous chords. Pockson’s vocals emanate from behind the curtain, and the audience begins to howl in unison. She floats onto the stage, head to toe in black, delving into “Full Bloom”.
As they play through the album, it fluctuates, it’s moody and restless. “Heavy Metal” is sexy. Pure and simple. It’s got dark, synth-beats and snappy snare drums (clearly citing trap, garage ad metal), counterbalanced beautifully by Catherine’s uplifting vocals.
In contrast, “Alright” is slow and soulful; ALPINES have really pushed the boat out here and clearly worked extremely hard to construct Full Bloom with intention and diversity.
Fans are having a field day, it seems as if their cult following were based solely in Shoreditch. The crowd indulges in every song and journey it propels you to. Archangel is woefully sad and moving, it doesn’t leave the audience with a happy ending, but begs them to listen and engage: “Ask me, what should I do? … I pray”. It’s reflexive of their musical journey and rallying cry towards global warming.
Having worked alongside artists like The Maccabees, The Naked and Famous, Emli Sande and Florence + the Machine and remixing numerous artists, the duo clearly aren’t afraid to get stuck in. They’re truly immersive in their own work and within the mediums of music and art, you feel like you’re a part of this journey.