By Stuart McPhee Apr.12.2010
In: Album Reviews, Commentary, Opinion
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Searching For Fun: Almost Alice & New Young Pony Club

Because ultimately that is what we all want out of music – some fun. Sure, I like a little dourness every now and then but not when the aim is to cut loose. With this in mind, I can not begin to explain how wide of the mark the faux-soundtrack Almost Alice actually is.

Perhaps it is best to question the album’s actual existence before sinking the slipper into its content.

Music that is inspired by a film (in this case Tim Burton’s take on Alice In Wonderland) has never really sat well with me. Usually these sorts of soundtracks are vessels for off-cuts from a record company’s roster where ninety-five percent of the songs never appear in the film (save for the end credits) and almost never have any lyrical link to the movie in question.

Whilst the songs that make up Almost Alice certainly reference Lewis Carroll’s classic tale (at times too bluntly) only one of them can actually be heard in the film – during the end credits of course.

That honour belongs to the shrill-gorged tones of Avril Lavigne with ‘Alice’. With that as an indicator, the rest of Almost Alice is your stock standard American commercial pap (All Time Low, The All-American Rejects, Metro Station) cheekily throwing in Wonderland-esque lines into their oh so earnest lyrics: “If you cut me I suppose I would bleed the colors of the evening stars.”

If I never hear from Owl City again it will be too soon.

The only surprise amongst this lot is the inclusion of heavyweights like Franz Ferdinand and Wolfmother whose appearance seem as out of place as Obama at a Klan rally. And of course nothing says fun times like the inclusion of Mr Happy himself Robert Smith.

Speaking of the British, a group who actually know about fun is New Young Pony Club. While admittedly nothing on their new album The Optimist is as overtly playful as early single ‘Ice Cream’,  NYPC deliver a more mature sound without sacrificing their sense of having a good time. ‘Chaos’ begs to be played on the dance floors on a Saturday night whilst ‘Dolls’ evokes the spirit of 90s outfit Luscious Jackson.

Though The Optimist plateaus about three quarters of the way in (a sequencing problem more than anything), there is much to like from this band. You get the sense that their defining album is not too far off.