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A Magazine for Sheffield

Popular Demain

Rhythm doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, at least in ‘popular music’. Of course, there are whole genres dedicated to worshipping the infinite possibilities of endlessly complex overlaying rhythms, but Dublin's Alarmist have attempted the not insignificant challenge of integrating a love of leftfield, jazz-inspired rhythmic tendencies into a commercially viable, modern instrumental band sound.

Popular Demaintakes a suave, jazz base, tightens it up and drags it into the electronic age, smoothing over the intricate rhythmic undercurrent with swathes of electronic texture and sweeping melody. Like GoGo Penguin, but with expanded, thicker instrumentation, Alarmist grab the listener's attention right from the outset, the stabbing, synthesised riff of ‘Petrichor’ setting the tone for the album with no hesitation. The guitar work underpins everything on this album, but very rarely takes the limelight. Riffs that lean towards the restrained, Mike Oldfield school of prog underlay many of the most intriguing passages.

Traces of sci-fi soundscapes are detectable at many points too, never more so than on the protracted but lush ending to the album, ‘Cordillera’, while ‘Boston Space’ is a distillation of the many elements that make up Alarmist’s sound. A thick techno bass riff gives way to spacey jazz ambience, with groovy riffs suddenly popping up in unexpected places.
Despite the often odd arrangements, which could boggle the attentive listener’s brain, Alarmist have created an album whose often disjointed rhythms and melodies have a strange catchiness that will stick in your mind long after the album concludes.

Richard Spencer