If lately you’ve stepped into boutique café, a Club Monaco outlet, or (so I’ve been told) an underwear shop in a gay enclave, you’ve probably heard something by the Danish band Alpaca Blow. Otherwise you may have streamed their self-titled debut on the Guardian website, or read their reviews at the likes of Pitchfork or Rolling Stone. In Denmark they are known as Alpaca Blå (the latter word meaning blue in Danish), but for overseas marketing purposes their label, Daneland’s Best, decided to Anglicize the spelling. To English speakers this is an odd-sounding name, and may have contributed some interest.
Regardless, their English songs are delivered with impeccable syntax. They come to us by way of Hans Muller, who sings in an uncanny, calculatingly hybridized Anglo-American accent, in the way only Scandinavians seem able to pull off. Muller, whose caesar haircut sets him apart from his longhaired bandmates, gets exclusive writing credit for all songs, and most of the attention, too. Mainstream reader comments have referred to him as “brilliant”, “voice of a generation”, “channeler of the zeitgeist”, etc. Perhaps this derives from the evident truths and catch-all quality of his lyrics:
When it comes, you know (“It Comes”)
I see you there
Waiting in the distance
There, but not here (“Waiting”)
On the more highbrow sites – Pitchfork and the like – there has been praise for the “shimmering, menacing” quality of Jorgen Jensen’s guitar, or the band’s “ironic” shoegaze cover of “Sex Shooter” by Apollonia 6. Dreadlocked bassist Anders Paulsen has been deemed “innovative” for switching to keyboard bass on “You, and only You” and “We Live” – the only tracks on which he does anything more than follow the guitar. The ensemble is held together by Magnus Holms, whose drums may derive from a catalogue of Reason samples.
Despite all the press they’ve been getting, Alpaca Blow are as unremarkable as their band photos, in which they stand pouting, as if they might just have given – or received – what their name indicates. And perhaps it is this unremarkable quality that has brought them so much success. Everyone seems to like Alpaca Blow – teenagers who imagine themselves married in five years, middle-aged men driving luxury brand cars and reveling in complacency, humourless career women on fertility drugs, liberal politicians, William Gibson, and medical lab technicians smearing shit on glass slides. You’ve heard them, and I’ve heard them. And if there’s ever been a band for everyone, everywhere, it’s Alpaca Blow.
Track listing for Alpaca Blow: Alpaca Blow (Daneland’s Best Records):
- You, and only You
- Sex Shooter
- In a Moment
- It Comes
- We Live
- All You Remember
- For Tibet