Alt – ‘I’m A Dancer’ EP Review

Aside from having a name that makes them damned hard to research on the internet, Alt are a powerful rock band from France with an ear for the twisted surf punk of the Dead Kennedys,  the barbed lyricism of the Smiths, the atmospheric despair of the Cure, the anarchic punk of Mclusky and the dark pop of Pulp. It’s an odd, unnerving combination that frequently confuses but never bores as the band thrash their way through four fast paced songs that would have been absolutely huge if they’d only been released in 1994 rather than today’s vapid musical climate. However, whilst we may not see Alt climbing the charts (more’s the pity), for fans of punk-infused rock Alt will rapidly become a new favourite act.

Housed in a handsome digipack, ‘I’m a dancer’ offers four songs that snarl, satirise and spit at anything that comes close enough to be a target. Inspired by the same school of obnoxious attitude that makes the Wildhearts such a thrilling act, the band’s modus operandi seems to be to set up, unleash the maximum amount of noise in the shortest space of time and then disappear before anyone thinks to ask them to pay for damages. First track ‘I AMN’T’ cruises on the back of a twisted surf-punk riff before singer Denis intones “I am a politician, seeking no fun, trying to figure out what things can and can’t be done” and you can’t help but feel his barbed humour would find favour with that most outspoken of rock musicians, Jello Biafra. It drinks from the same well of innovation that fed into bands such as Urusai yatsura and Joy Division and the result is adrenalin charged rock that looks both forward and back in equal measure, its sights set squarely on the small knot of people pogoing enthusiastically in front of any stage the band set up upon. ‘The important ones’, meanwhile, mixes up guitar riffs that reference Pulp with a surging bass line drawn straight from Mclusky’s song-book of sonic terrorism and a rhythmic vocal approach referencing long-lost (and much missed) Derbyshire act Cable. It’s a dark, nightmarish world of insomnia and flickering TV screens that ALT inhabit, and that grimy atmosphere is equally apparent on the brilliantly titled ‘super hardcore love sing-a-long song’ with its ‘Anarchy in the UK’ build up quickly subverted by fizzing bass and Nirvana-esque fuzz guitar. It’s the highlight of the EP and guaranteed to be a killer live with its adrenalin charged guitar riffs and hectic percussion. The EP is rounded out with ‘all that’s wrong in it’, a track that opens drowned in Jesus and Mary Chain worshipping feedback before taking a detour down a more relaxed path than the other three tracks here, the atmosphere that of Nirvana covering Blur with the Melvins and Sonic Youth in attendance.

Alt are a band who draw heavily from the exceptional musical scene that existed in the early half of the nineties. References abound, but this is no nostalgia trip and Alt have rightly made those influences their own, crafting an EP that promises much if the band can maintain their level of invention over a full-length release. How Alt will fare with today’s jaded audiences is anybody’s guess, but for those who fondly remember the frenetic, innovative music that miraculously graced magazine covers and radio stations the UK over in the early nineties, this will be a most welcome surprise.

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