Album Reviews

Albertine Sarges – The Sticky Fingers

(Moshi Moshi) UK release date: 29 January 2021


Albertine Sarges - Sticky Fingers Most pop music is factory made. It always was. Whether it was Bacharach and David, Stock Aitken & Waterman or whatever Swedish collective is currently doing the rounds, it’s descended into generic high fructose music designed by subcommittee, indistinguishable algorithm and blues squeezed out to generate excessive profit margins for shareholders and app developers and placate the neanderthal youth who are yet to twig how great music can get when it comes from within.

For her debut album Albertine Sarges has taken a path against this grain to craft an intriguing and flexible record that feels genuinely expressive, witty and often heartbreaking, a whip smart rollercoaster that you can cry and dance to in equal measure.

Sharing its name with the band she occasionally plays with, the title of the album could as easily be a comment on the macho posing of bands like The Rolling Stones as much as a reference to the magpie nature of the Berlin born-and-based musician and her constantly evolving output. Although this is the first record put out under her own name, Sarges has toured extensively with Holly Herndon and also performs in the Italian synthwave band Itaca.

Beat Again is a spiky, elusive opener about finding that creative or emotional spark that resuscitates you after significant loss, as Sarges promises “Everyone hurts, I’ll look for your wounds and heal them”. Offering a commitment to reviving those who find themselves without purpose, it’s a gently slick slice of inspirational city pop. Cities and environments and the impact they have on human relations loom large across the whole album.

Post Office is a schizophrenic confection of self-reflective glam rock radio funk. Fish is a song about mundane pleasures such frozen bags of peas and lasagne in which Sarges sings “Can we meet at the public toilet, I’m with a big black dog,” admittedly not a line we’re likely to find coming from homegrown chart pestering pop bores. Elsewhere, on emotional power ballad Oh My Love, we get a namecheck for Kottbusser Tor station, home of the German capital’s laidback and welcoming bar Südblock, where hip locals congregate.

That sense of community and co-dependence is the other prevalent theme Sarges mines. Fan favourite The Girls is a joyously quirky and über camp ditty with a slippery bass groove about friendship and feminist solidarity. It’s wildly in debt to Tom Tom Club and photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s undervalued Will Powers project, with her backing group and various headless interlopers acting as a post-postmodern Greek chorus responding to wry observations. The revelatory Free Today sneakily appropriates and speeds up the intro from Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer and also chucks in a thought-provoking quote about feminist revelations by writer Sara Ahmed.

Bouncy, urgent and subjective, with this fascinating eight track collection Sarges goes far beyond the theory of the power of girlhood and dizzily practices what she preaches.


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Albertine Sarges – The Sticky Fingers