The Spell (AKA The Beat Is) by Alphabeat

I have never been so excited by a CD since “The Spell.” So I am doing a track by track review for my own enjoyment.

The whole record definitely embodies the so-called “Wonky Pop” movement. I wish we had artists in America – other than Gagalupe – who embraced that. “Wonky Pop” is fun and unabashed in their musical delivery. While I know artists hate to be pegged or labeled, at least Alphabeat is honest about it. They’ve been involved with Wonky Pop events since they both started.

I like the almost Motown length of the songs on the album too: the majority of the songs on the record run less than 3 minutes. In the old days – and I’m talking the 60s for you whippersnappers – that’s how Motown seeded their music so quickly and so popularly. By keeping the hooks short and sweet, you could play 20 Motown songs in an hour or so, give or take, excluding commercials and DJ banter. But in a way, I feel like the songs are too short on the album. Alphabeat’s music is so infectious I want it to keep going on and on forever.

  1. “The Spell”: there are elements of this song that remind me of the fun Europop/freestyle music that used to come on the radio when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s the beat, or the vocals, or even the sample of Cut ‘n’ Move’s “Get Serious,” but this song is so much light-hearted fun. Don’t know if this was a strong first single, but there are gems on this record that leap out and make it worth the money.
  2. “DJ”: this song makes me wanna dance. The premise is simple enough: it’s a call to every DJ to play good music. All we wanna do is dance, so do your damn job and make us dance all night.
  3. “Hole in My Heart”: the driving keyboard beat reminds me of that one song on the tip of my tongue that was really big in the early 90s. I know, that helps right? That’s the point. The album as a whole is reminiscent of the music from that time. It’s not a concept album but it presents the sound of that time respectfully and lets us relive those “good old days” (if they ever existed).
  4. “The Beat Is”: the hook drives me crazy, especially the “woo!” in it. It’s a great walking song. I dare you not to dance and sing along when it comes on.
  5. “Heat Wave”: It reminds me of “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters and even “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls. That lite disco soul sound is so strong in this song. Say that twenty times fast! 🙂
  6. “Chess”: when I first got the record, I got a bunch of other ones too. I hadn’t heard the single version of “The Spell” even though I’m following their fan page on Facebook and knew it was out already. When it shuffled up on iTunes, I stopped what I was doing and listened to it. No joke. It’s flirty and sexy and simply awesome. Everyone can relate to wanting to hook up with someone you’ve been talking to for awhile. “I can’t do this anymore, come on baby, let’s quit playing chess.”
  7. “Heart Failure”: I like the delivery of her vocals. It sounds like she’s holding back by talking the lyrics. The beat is crazy too.
  8. “Always Up With You”: another song that sounds like my childhood. I’m gonna keep saying that because it’s hard to do justice to a song in words. Honestly, when you listen to this song – the whole record even! – you’ll hear what I mean.
  9. “Q & A”: the most ballad-y song on the record. Almost like Stevie B’s song, “Because I Love You” but more up-tempo and with more instrumentation. It’s almost Miami/Latin freestyle-like, if you listened to that or know what it is.
  10. “The Right Thing”: another down-tempo song, this feels like a Europop song before the club mix was released for radio airplay. You almost expect an epic remix to come from this, if the right DJ were to get their hands on it.

Must Listen: “DJ,” “The Beat Is,” “Chess”

Bonus video: “Chess” (audio only, it’s not a single… yet, you hear me Polydor??)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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