Album Review: Bachelorette – Bachelorette

[Drag City / Souterrain Transmissions; 2011]

Annabel Alpers’ one-woman synth-folk project, Bachelorette has been around since 2005. Hailing from New Zealand, Bachelorette stands out in comparison to the surf-pop music Alpers’ used to make, and has been recognized for doing so; each of her previous releases have received good reviews as well as quite a bit of praise. Releasing her third album, entitled Bachelorette, Alpers’ proves that she isn’t stepping down in making a name for herself through doing something that is entirely unique to her.

In 2009, Alpers’ proved that isolation can do a person good by exiling herself in a small cottage to create the sad and mournful My Electric Family; an album that can really only be described as beautiful in every sense. Now, in 2011, Alpers’ is demonstrating that a similar effect can be achieved in a fully functioning society with the self-titled Bachelorette.

Consisting of eleven tracks, Bachelorette goes through layers of music and captivates the listener, taking them on a journey through rich lyrical stories and light melodies. Opening the album is “Grow Old With Me,” which sounds like it would fit in at a Chamber Music festival; harmonizing vocals and a low humming melody plays second fiddle to Alpers’ voice proclaiming her adoration for whomever the subject of this song is through lyrics about watching each other’s faces as they disintegrate and being happy. This track also serves as being the most misleading track on the album, as it fools listeners into thinking that Bachelorette is going to be a follow up to My Electric Family in terms of sound, which is not the case at all.

“Blanket,” the third track on the album, sounds like it would fit better at a bar or in an episode of “Skins” than in a church, with its heavier beat and melody which consists of lots of distortion and bass. This track launches the tone of the album and establishing its unique Crystal Castles meets Beach House meets Björk sound.

“Sugarbug” is a perfect example of the comparison to and similarities with Beach House. Alpers recreates their dreamy sound flawlessly in this summery track. This track stands out from the rest of the album since the mechanistic beats and melodies are abandoned to create a sound that Best Coast tries to, but could only dream of creating. Like the weather that is quickly arriving, Alpers’ voice is warm and laidback and the track would not be out of place on a picnic or beach-day themed playlist.

“Digital Brain” is the track that re-establishes the whole Crystal Castles/Björk/Beach House description, and is the standout of the album. It has so many layers and different aspects, loops, melodies, bridges and even a part that could only be compared to the climax in a book, that if increased in length, “Digital Brain” could probably allow for three separate songs to be created. As a single track, though, this song exemplifies Bachelorette’s talent and musical capabilities; hopefully more like this are created in the future. Through the song’s light-hearted synth melodies and dreamy surrealistic vocals, “Digital Brain” would have been better placed as the last song on the album, as the other tracks seem weak in comparison.

Alpers’ maintains her sense of individuality in her music while taking her sound to a whole new level. Listeners can rest assured that this album will not disappoint.