Alaska Campus – When We Were YoungAlaska Campus are from Hertfordshire? This news surprised and alarmed me… It surprised me because I thought they sounded distinctly American. I was sure they were either from the US, or a special circle of Hell reserved for Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. I was alarmed because Hertfordshire is pretty close to where I live. I’d hate to bump into them on a train as lead singer Ryan Potter was harmonising.

Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but he does warble quite a bit, sounding like Aguilera and Carey might do if they had testicles, or Toni Braxton might without testicles. And their overall tone is nauseatingly emo.

They have a different sound – I’ll give them that. They experiment with unusual rhythms and compositions, and are clearly capable musicians, even stretching to the use of a cowbell. The otherwise awful ‘Mon Reve’, for example, is nicely stripped down and then patiently built back up again, which keeps you interested and shows off their talents.

It’s just that it the vocals are a bit whiny and annoying, and then they’re sometimes joined with a backing whoa whoa, which I’m never the biggest fan of. They’re like a poppier version of The Kooks, after they’ve visited a magical land of fairies, rainbows and the purest LSD that happy thoughts can buy.

‘Roseanna’ is particularly cringeworthy. I don’t know what the poor girl did to deserve this: ‘Rose-a-a-a-anna, I’m gonna sing your name ‘cos it helps me to be me’, followed by a crescendo of hitherto muted guitars and drums, and Jared Leto-esque screaming. Emo at its finest. Sorry, did I say finest? I meant shittest.

After that, the next track tried to push me over the edge: ‘Grab your golden dreams and then just follow me/You won’t find troubles here, just smiles and happy tears’. I really don’t think there’s a sick bag big enough.

As I say, there’s nothing wrong with their music – it’s just the vocals. I could quite happily listen to this record if it was five instrumental tracks. It’s in the instrumentals that you can hear the band they followed and then supported – Bombay Bicycle Club.

I’ve seen Bombay Bicycle Club live a couple of times and I’ve been impressed a couple of times. If Alaska Campus had been supporting them though, I’d probably have taken the opportunity to go the bar. I think drinking might make listening to them easier.

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