Alfie – A Word in Your Ear

Alfie
A Word in Your Ear

Every once in awhile an album comes around that begins so great, but then things sadly take a turn for the worse by the end. Unfortunately, as good as the first half of Alfie’s latest album is, the second half shows a band floundering for which direction to go next.

The album starts off promising enough. The title track is a splendid acoustic-based number that exudes a pleasant, summer day feel. Think Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young with a bit of modern indie rock ambience. “Cloudy Lemonade” is very similar to the previous track in sound, but it adds a bit of flute over the harmony, which works nicely. The vocals sound vaguely like Billy Corgan’s except not quite as whiny. “Bends For 72 Miles” is another solid song that adds a bit of bass-driven rhythm to the mix but continues with the tones of the previous songs.

When one reaches the halfway point through the record, it’s easy to think, “Hey, this is a pretty darn good band. The songs are catchy, well-written, and tight. The vocals are nice. What more can a music fan ask for?” Maybe the band posed themselves this question as well, because the second half of the record brings a lot more to the table – much more than anyone asked for.

“The Reverse Midas Touch” comes completely out of nowhere. At first it seems like a hip-hop spoof with the bizarre rap at the beginning, but then it continues on with a funky rhythm. For some reason the vocals have become nasal and unpleasant as well. There are also little annoying background noises that sound more at place on a Playstation game. Was this the band’s attempt for some sort of hit single on the MTV market? The track mostly sounds like a wanna-be Beck type tune and is a very strange choice for the album.

“Summer Lanes” does redeem the choice of the previous cut as it’s a throwback to the previous songs on the record but a bit more rocking. Unfortunately, “Me and Mine” sounds more at place at a carnival. It’s good to see a band experimenting, but this track just doesn’t really flow well. The melody isn’t so bad, but when it’s accompanied by an off-putting rhythm and jug-like sounds, it just doesn’t work.

When the band is on, they sound great. The first few tracks on the record are solidly crafted, melodic, and professionally played. The songwriting, although not completely original, holds a pretty high standard, leaving the listener excited with the arrival of each new track. If the band can stick to the material that they are strongest at, great things could happen for them. They definitely should stay away from songs like “The Reverse Midas Touch.” Hopefully whatever demons they had that needed exorcising were released with the creation of that tune. With that out of their system, they can concentrate on writing the solid, splendid rock that they are more than capable of creating.