Alice Gold seems every bit the modern pop star, washed clean of all the sugar coating that permeated through most other pretty-faced, female solo pop artists of the last billion decades. Like a lot of the pop predecessors who have punted out this type of chart-ready music she is styled and preened and looks like she has a bunch of ‘edgy’ looking session artists placed behind her in her videos, whom we imagine she only met that day, but in place of the dance moves and electronic pop we find her hitting guitar strings and playing distorted tunes with real instruments.
She pitches herself somewhere between the credible talents of Anna Calvi and the horribly damp duo The Pierces, which ends up with a slightly confusing image. She has the looks and presence of a pop star and her vocals are particularly strong, but she tries to fuse rock influences with it and that’s essentially where she falls a little short. On the one hand we welcome the refreshing change in direction, bringing an authentic sound to an otherwise Tupperware pop world, but in straddling both ends of music’s spectrum she doesn’t quite seem to fit either glove.
All is not lost though as there are some striking highlights, which are only dotted with occasional weaknesses, never entirely ruining the music. Take the tune, And You’ll Be There, which begins with all the real instruments on show, providing fuzzy basslines and a wonderfully snaking groove, before her vocals arrive and lead you up to a note-changing chorus. It’s one of many peaks in her repertoire.
Our attention was initially grabbed with her first tune, Orbiter, which flashed around last September and quickly earned her the ‘Next Big Thing’ award from Q Magazine in October. She has talked of rock influences, such as Led Zeppelin and Jefferson Airplane, and they’re on show with this launcher. The pace is faster than a lot of her subsequent tunes and it ends rather brilliantly like a Red Hot Chili Pepper‘s rock out.
Having signed to the Universal/Polydor sub-label, Fiction Records, she then released Runaway Love in February. It also shows her off with a guitar in her hands although the rock is toned down to more of a Neil Young pace. Unfortunately her strong vocal abilities don’t allow the lyrics to stand up, with the shamefully boring chorus “I want to run run runaway with you“, before rhyming “park” and “dark“, like it’s been written by a sixth-former in the back of their textbook. The chorus picks things up with a tidy melody, but she still tries to rhyme “waiting” and “anticipating“.
This week the music blogs were sent the video for her imminent single, Cry Cry Cry, which is due for a release on June 27th. This will be at the peak of the expected media storm as her debut album, Seven Rainbows, arrives immediately afterwards on July 4th. The video drops the session band and puts the focus on her, which is always the best move, particularly as this is perhaps the most pop tune to date. Slow motion shots of her wafting her hair around and waving her Florence Welch dress are played out as she repeats the line “so beautiful“, which is as wet as it sounds. It’s lost some of the unusual edge of her rockier songs but it will guarantee her lots of T4 coverage.
Here we’re watching the emergence of an assured star of the future, who is guaranteed some over-exposed limelight as we lead up to her debut album. She’s definitely got enough talent and cleverly strikes a marketing balance between having enough edge and not scaring off the hordes of sheep-like teens. However, the problem we have is that by making music that’s trying to appeal so broadly, perfect as it is to both radio (One or Two) and television, as well as bridging the rock and pop markets, which leaves us with the equivalent of someone irritatingly hogging the middle lane of music’s highway. (MB)
ALICE GOLD – ORBITER
ALICE GOLD – CONVERSATIONS OF LOVE