After years of working independently within the music industry, Catherine Pockson and Bob Matthews started releasing music under the moniker Alpines in 2011. While they take inspiration from a multitude of different genres, the duo’s music can best be described as electronic pop and has drawn comparisons with Banks and Zola Jesus. Over the past five years they have built up a cult following within the fashion industry, opened for Florence + the Machine and honed a killer aesthetic.

Released at the end of last month via Metropolis Recordings, their sophomore album Another River sees their return with a more polished, powerful sound. Where their debut was party-appropriate moody pop, their new LP is vocal-driven and intense. The pared-down backing tracks put the focus on intimate, heart-felt lyrics that invite the listener to reflect on their own experiences of love and heartbreak. However, the album’s real shining point is Pockson’s vocal versatility: crystal clear one moment but husky with emotion the next. Indeed, without this expressive quality of Pockson’s voice, the album would be just another cool, minimal electronic release without any greater emotional impact.

Opening track ‘Another River sets this more emotive tone, melding sparse piano notes with melancholic lyrics and a pulsing rhythm. Other album highlights include the RnB infused ‘Stay, the downbeat ballad ‘Motionless and first single ‘Heaven, a crowd-pleaser with more of a dance music vibe.

The duo pulls together diverse music styles in order to create a distinctive sound which best showcases the band’s strengths, rather than simply following current trends in popular music. This artistry and originality is reflected in the form which the album takes: a soft blur which ebbs and flows as songs switch from one genre to the next, mimicking the transitions and rhythms of the natural environment referenced by the album’s title.

★★★★