Genre: Shoegaze, Drone
Favorite Tracks: “Electric Sickness,” “Unpacking my Feelings,” “Black Rainbow,” “Ruins,” “Eavesdropper”
“What does it mean to be happy?” Trite? Maybe. Explored creatively through sound? Absolutely. It’s nearly impossible anymore to reference The Myth of Sisyphus without making your audience feel as if they’ve stepped into a sophomore philosophy student’s dorm room as he’s explaining the tenets of nihilism, complete with aloof Uma Thurman peering down at you from the wall. Alex Peterson and co. accomplish this post-modern feat with the heartfelt, direct lyrics and oppressive noise on ALEXALONEWORLD.
As an Austinite myself, I know alexalone to be quite ubiquitous in the local independent scene. Over the years, they’ve made up live members of Hovvdy, Lomelda, and Ama. Those experiments in collaboration translate to ALEXALONEWORLD, the group’s debut full-length project with Alex Peterson serving as the lead songwriter. alexalone worships at the altar of the guitar pedal, borrowing from the conventions of noise, shoegaze, and even stoner rock; it’s no surprise that they opted to include a list of every piece of musical equipment used in the recording of the album firmly on the cover of the record, down to the minute details.
ALEXALONEWORLD is a cohesive package of sound. The stoned-out despair runs start to finish. The album begins with highlight “Electric Sickness.” A tale of sarcastic platitudes, it summarizes the album’s objective: “turn your weakness into electric sickness.” We’re thrust into a never-settled, anxious mind in “Unpacking my Feelings,” complete with percussive guitar and drum hits that scream frustration and helplessness. “Black Rainbow” is easily the most introspective and honest piece of songwriting from Peterson, the metaphor of the black rainbow snaring them in its gloom just as they near feeling one with reality is particularly imaginative. However, in this darkness there is light. The final song, “Eavesdropper,” feels like the feral child in MAD MAX trying to claw his way into your head. The drums provide an incessant backdrop of madness for Peterson and their fellow axe-wielders to play their dissonance off of. It leaves you in psychosis. Any feeling of resolution is outweighed by the manic sonics that alexalone conjures.
Motifs run rampant throughout the LP, with chugging chord progressions providing the static white noise of daily dread. Peterson is simultaneously exorcising their demons and questioning the very meaning and worth of their emotions. This paradox is a familiar one in the modern age, and one that’s explored on this project through beautiful simplicity. The aforementioned existential static draws a line through the record with similar chords being utilized on both “Unpacking my Feelings” and “Ruins,” often stripped of excess instrumentation, leaving the angst bare and ever present.
ALEXALONEWORLD occupies a strange space as a largely instrumental album; Peterson’s vocals are sprinkled in at incisive points, just in time to avoid total isolation and disillusionment. But such as is a storybook understanding of human existence, hope appears in the nick of time: a voice calling out in the fog. alexalone is our momentary salvation.