One of the most under-appreciated phenomena in pop music is bands that remain true to themselves in the course of their career. The dynamics of attention to the most recent song / release / show seems to require a constant need to re-invent oneself or at the very least make giant steps in whatever direction away from the last song / release / show. Swedish indiepopsters Alpaca Sports may not agree with our assessment of their recording history, but we feel they’re a band who haven’t done that. Andreas and Amanda basically stick to what they’re brilliant at and we love them for just that. Even when they signed with Elefant Records and had their first 10″ for the Spanish label produced by the legendary Ian Catt, they grew with respect to the scope of their sound but did not change path. The new LP From Paris With Love has Catt back at the helm and proves once more that as much as he can add to the sound of a record, he never changes what the recorded band essentially is – he takes their best and blows it up a little bit. So on the new album, Alpaca Sports are still allowed to present themselves as the Swedish indieopop band we’ve known since 2012, after all. Is that a good thing?
Well, it doesn’t take a lot of research to detect a fundamental disagreement about the saccharine sunniness of Scandinavian indiepop (the gross overgeneralisation inherent to that construction being something we are well aware of), of which Alpaca Sports are perhaps the most prominent ambassadors. While some are utterly charmed by the life-affirming songwriting and the innocently cheerful performance of even the most desperate feelings, others just miss the kind of edginess and roughness usually associated with most brands of, say, UK indie music. There’s an ever so slight inclination for the latter here at Emmas_House HQ but that does by no means affect our deep appreciation for Alpaca Sports’ stellar track of having churned out a good dozen of indiepop’s most delightful tunes over the last six years. It’s possible to not be the biggest fan of Scandinavian indiepop but it’s impossible to not value the qualities of its best representatives.
With From Paris With Love they add a few more timeless tunes to their list of achievements – the strength of the songs remains unchanged („Nobody Cares But Me“ would sit entirely comfortable with any of the 7″ singles they released in 2012/2013), but Alpaca Sports have enhanced the scope of their sound once more –in a way that moves them even further away from standard definitions of indie as needing to be somehow deep, suffering, distorted. Even though most of the lyrics circle around sad people experiencing the pains of unrequieted love, with only tiny glimpses of hope, the musical arrangements carrying these sentiments on the new album draw on upbeat soul („Eiffel Tower“), disco-chart pop („Summer Days“), and even some Paris-inspired side trips into the French chanson tradition. The true art lies in pulling all this off without even the slightest hint of a performative contradiction … „even though it hurts, I’ll sing my song“, Andreas sighs on „Without You“. And maybe, just maybe, Alpaca Sports don’t really buy into the indie ideology anyway – some songs on From Paris With Love sound like they’re out there for world domination. And wouldn’t a world where a band on Elefant Records can achieve that be worth dreaming of?
From Paris With Love was released in September 2018 on Elefant Records: