(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The End Of Things (2005), 7/10 (EP)
Isolation Loops (2006), 6.5/10
My Electric Family (2009) , 6/10
Bachelorette (2011), 5/10

New Zealand's Annabel Alpers, after a stint with surf-rockers Hawaii Five-O, debuted her project Bachelorette with the EP The End Of Things (Arch Hill, 2005 - Drag City, 2010) and the album Isolation Loops (Mistletone, 2006 - Drag City, 2010), entirely recorded by her on keyboards and computers.

The End of Things is a collection of lyrical, floating psychedelic lullabyes, starting with the upbeat, march-tempo My Electric Husband. A slower synth-pop beat supports the more languid Down in the Street. Love is a Drug is a Neil Young-ian country-rock elegy dissolving through the effects of a drug overdose (with a symphonic shoegazing finale). While Alpers crafts a uniform sound throughout the EP, the structures extend across a rather broad range, from the abstract madrigal Pebbles and Dirt to a slow-motion version of bubblegum pop of the 1960s in Song for a Boy, and from the progressive electronica of On the Four, that sounds like a remix of vintage Yes, to the nostalgic folkish litany of The End of Things.

The general feeling of that EP was transposed to Isolation Loops, with the arrangements further improved but the melodies a little less magical. Duet Minus One, that crosses naive girls-group ditties of the early 1960s with spaced-out psychedelic lullabies of the late 1960s, stands as the archetype for all the songs. Most of them explicitly mimic styles of decades past, from the lightweight pop of A Lifetime to the sleepy country anthem Isolation, culminating with the worst offender, the seven-minute slow-dance serenade Holding Back One. Alpers makes quite an effort to polish her vocal harmonies: they are suspended in thin air in And the Earth Knew Absence, they waltz like in an old-fashioned dancehall in Doo-Wop, they evoke Yes again in Poppacino. The winner, however, might be the one exception to the rule: the surreal atmospheric synth-pop vignette Intergalactic Solitude. Next would be another eccentric construct, the refracted echo chant of Your Magic Air.

My Electric Family (Drag City, 2009) was a more professional affair that enhanced her retro taste and fully took advantage of her encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, from the soothing cowpunk rhythm and falsetto melody of Instructions for Insomniacs to the multi-part Yes-like harmonies of National Grid, from the twangy girl-group lullaby of Donkey to the Todd Rundgren-ian cabaret of Dream Sequence. Bachelorette is at her best in the more electronic pieces: the Abba-like disco shuffle of Her Rotating Head and especially the catchy disco-funk Mindwarp. Unfortunately there aren't enough ideas to sustain a full-length. As an EP, this would have been a gem.

Annabel Alpers comes through as a poor man's (woman's) Laurie Anderson on Bachelorette (2011), a collection of songs that are artfully camouflaged to sound like electronic experiments when in fact they are simple folkish singalongs (Light Seekers, The Last Boat's Leaving) with the occasional nod at the dance club (Blanket, Polarity Party). The intellectual ambition of Digital Brain and Grow Old With Me is not matched by adequate musical substance.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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