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Alien Boy - Don’t Know What I Am Music Album Reviews

Alien Boy - Don’t Know What I Am Music Album Reviews
The Portland quartet crank up the chorus and distortion pedals in service of jangly hooks and gleaming counter-melodies.

Like any hopeless romantic worth their weight in mix CDs, Alien Boy wears its heart on its sleeve. The group takes its name from an EP by Portland punk legends the Wipers; their roster of covers includes a bleak take on Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and a morphiated Morrisey on the Smiths’ “Hand in Glove.” And like her influences, Alien Boy guitarist and vocalist Sonia Weber works at extremes: Every TV show is Friday Night Lights, every romance is like a dream, every melody is coated in chorus effect. The band’s new album, Don’t Know What I Am, wraps contemporary angst in a shimmering haze, drowning depression in lustrous dream pop.
With a pedal roster longer than the tracklist, Don’t Know What I Am vibrates with echo and reverb. The album arrives during a resurgence of shoegaze within emo and metal, with bands like Deafheaven and Nothing leading the charge. Alien Boy check some of those boxes: Like their 2018 debut full-length Sleeping Lessons, this record was produced by Jack Shirley, a former screamo bandleader known for his expertise in effects-heavy, effusive metal.

But where many of their contemporaries lean into the genre’s jagged edges, Alien Boy reach for chorus and distortion in service of jangly hooks and gleaming counter-melodies, more Cure than Codeine. “Nothing’s Enough” bounces with Siouxsie and the Banshees’ psychedelic sheen; “Ache #2” (named for the Jawbreaker song) recalls the paranoid bassline of “Every Breath You Take.” Where Sleeping Lessons felt top-heavy, with no song quite matching the nostalgic gleam of its opener, Don’t Know What I Am uses pacing to its advantage. Just as things begin to grow sleepy on “Seventeen,” “How Do I Think When Yr Asleep?” opens the proverbial pit with drum rolls and breakneck guitar solos. Weber’s vocals are clean and earnest, more about feeling than perfect form, as if to match the vulnerability in her lyrics.

She sings about “you” and “me” and “them,” obscuring the proper nouns of her life, but her disarmingly intimate words ache with a specific loneliness. As on Sleeping Lessons, the lyrics track the bitter end of a relationship, but here, Weber wrestles with messier aspects of acceptance and identity long after the breakup: “Sometimes I look in the mirror and you’re all I see,” she confesses on “Memory’s Vault.” “Something Better” comes closest to a thesis for the record: “Is it okay to still feel this way?” She takes a cue from Moz, repeating words and phrases until they turn into chants that inject energy into the album’s most despondent moments. “I want something better than out here,” she cries. Shouted enough times, it starts to sound aspirational.

There’s nothing jaded about the world of Alien Boy; Weber picks over old fights like scabbed wounds. The emotional openness of her writing sets the band apart from contemporary shoegaze inclinations towards existential ennui. It’s one thing to cover up your detached nihilism with reverb; it’s in some ways riskier to lean into the desperate romance of Loveless. And sure, hearing Weber sing about giving her “fragile heart” to a lover might summon a few eye-rolls from the Sargent House crowd. But Alien Boy knows that it’s futile to put up a front. As Weber concedes on “Memory Vault,” “It’s just too hard to be cool.”
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Alien Boy - Don’t Know What I Am Music Album Reviews Alien Boy - Don’t Know What I Am Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 Rating: 5

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