Alfie‘s new album is a fresh slice of the Manchester band’s light and memorable tunage. Opening with the summer folk of the title track, boasting harmonious melodies reverberating over minimal instrumentation, Alfie show their penchant for a catchy tune. Their Mancunian charm is matched only by their spirited tunes and the album’s opener, starting with folky acoustic guitar, is particularly demonstrative of this.
A Word In Your Ear merges into the experimental Cloudy Lemonade, every bit as memorable, where Johnny Marr-esque jangly guitar meets classy woodwind and big melodies.
This, though, is followed by the rather lacklustre Bends For 72 Miles, a song which blends Kelly Jones‘ arrogance and Radiohead‘s melancholic rhythms, but sadly lacks any real substance.
The balladeering Not Half is a curious mix of folk, lazy beats, brass and sunshine-soaked melodies but is one of the album’s better songs – Lee Gorton’s vocals complementing the low-key backing for the song. The aptly named Summer Lanes marks a refreshing change of direction in the album, the electric sing-along rhythms masking a summery, love-tinged feel – a halfway house between The Charlatans and Goldrush.
The LP’s second half includes the pensive Me And Mine, a glorious, if downbeat, tune soaked in admirable vocal harmonies and driven by acoustic guitars as the album’s penultimate track, Rain, Heaven, Hail matches Travis‘ illustrious acoustic guitar balladry with the prodigious tuneage of The Las.
The folk-infected The Lighthouse Keeper brings A Word In Your Ear to a close as sweet vocal harmonies compete with minor melodies and sweeping, whispery acoustic guitars. The album’s finale is a bit of an anti-climax, the tune building, yet never really going anywhere.
Alfie’s new album isn’t bad. It is a clear move on from their debut, both more commercial and more varied. A beautiful summery vibe pervades through the record as the band brush shoulders with folk, rock and psychedelia.