Alps hit a new peak
PLENTY of bands know about the difficult second album.
But for those lads from across the Pennines – the sometimes misunderstood Nine Black Alps – it was more about the difficulty that led to the second album.
Love/Hate, which burst out in October and has them roaring over to Sheffield Uni, finally, for a January 24 Fuzz Club, is the near perfect sequel to Everything Is, the quake-inducing platter that bore obvious comparisons to Nirvana, among others.
"The first album was shouting out of your bedroom window at the world," confirms singer Sam Forrest. "It was the album I had wanted to make when I was younger... Nirvana, Pixies, Sonic Youth and all. Whereas this album is where I am now."
And that is a mixture of loud and quiet, violent and calm. Separated by their acoustic mini album, Love/Hate is a well balanced blend of the band's now more obvious contrasting sides. And it should, by all rights, see them conquer new commercial summits.
Okay, it's been out a few months now, but you would do well to seek it out if you haven't done so already.
During the time in between records Sam quit Manchester to move back to his native York, having dealt with some personal issues. "I never think I get affected by surroundings, but I think it probably does," he continues.
"The first one's a very dark, hard album... then you learn to find the minor chords and the harmonies and put tambourine and pianos on things."
And whereas the debut was made in downtown Los Angeles, its sibling was made with Dave Sardy (Oasis, Jet, Wolfmother) at his complex in the Hollywood Hills.
"Dave gave us a way of not recording the same album twice.
"He was talking about The White Album by The Beatles, how there's a lot of space in there. We talked a lot about dynamics.
"For the first album when I was mixing it I told the mixing guy I didn't want any different dynamics, I wanted compressed, flat, constant. With this one I wanted to have more drama in each song."
"On a rock song we'd get the same amp, turn it up to 10 and play it as hard as we can. This time round we thought let's try an acoustic guitar, or let's try a really crap amp.
"Because we were there longer we got to experiment with songs. It ended up sounding a lot more individual and sweeter and richer."
So while Love/Hate supplies plenty to keep crowd pleasing hits such as Unsatisfied company at the Foundry later this month, it puts the bigger, occasionally American-flavoured drama alongside themes of longing, redemption and gentle pontification.
It is the likes of Burn Faster which will have the punters spilling their pints, however. "I heard Burn Faster on the radio for the first time the other night, and it does sound sadder than a lot of records at the moment," says your man.
"It's a feeling of reflection. That song's trying to break a habit of violence; the violence in a song and self-destructive violence. Recognising it and being able to put it in a song you move beyond it. You kind of want to have a bit more self-respect.”
Where the album scores most effectively in terms of taking the band on lies with the likes of Bitter End, the uplifting Lemonheads-esque first single from Love/Hate which exhibited muscle and enough melody to have a nun whistling.
“It’s like a goodbye to all of that. It’s fun, but at the same time I’ve had my fun. I want a different kind of fun. Goodbye to all that. But it was fun.”
Another confirmed new favourite is the blissful Future Wife, written when Sam had mumps. “It’s about the aspirations that you have. It’s that thing of wanting success, and success has a price.
“A lot of the album’s about realising that the good stuff’s usually closer to home, I think.”