With a number of chart-busters and a sound steeped in infectious joy, Alphabeat won over a loyal fan base when their first album hit the airwaves in 2007. More than a decade and a short hiatus later, they bring out their fourth full-length album, Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore, and it seems very little has changed: they may not care for cool anymore, but they sure know how to pen a catchy feel-good tune.

Seven years have passed since Scan Magazine last caught up with Alphabeat, then just settled back in Denmark after a stint in London. In the car on the way back to Copenhagen after an all-day radio tour, promoting their upcoming album Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore, the band reflects on the impact of the move. “It’s been really good for the band, almost like a reunion – we feel at home,” says vocalist and percussionist Anders SG, adding that they’ve found a presence and focus in recent years that was hard to come by in London. “Our guitarist has a summer house where there’s no internet or phone signal, and we’ve been there together to work many times. Denmark has made it easier to do that, and that way, we’re more in touch with the music.” Singer Stine Bramsen adds: “It’s also helped us to ignore what’s in the charts. In the UK, we probably focused on the charts too much, because everyone talks about it there. Here at home, it’s been easier to stick to our gut feeling.”

It sounds as though it’s been a home-coming in more ways than one. Indeed, the first two singles from their upcoming album make writing pop songs sound easy, both characterised by a catchy confidence, the latest – I Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore – flirting with Spice Girls nostalgia and boasting an irresistible four-on-the-floor pre-chorus. And maybe it’s true that they don’t know what’s cool anymore, but that’s exactly what makes the tunes sound so stupidly refreshing, in a way that makes you want to jump up and break out into a choreographed Grease-style flash mob. It’s not cool – it’s wonderful. Their earlier releases have always referenced – sometimes subtly, other times blatantly – earlier decades, with the debut album This is Alphabeat presenting an unmistakable love for the ‘80s, the follow-up The Beat Is… hinting at the ‘90s and, finally, Express Non-Stop going a little more disco with a 1970s influence. This new sound is both more difficult to put in a box and perfectly straight-forward in its genuine love of a good pop tune. “I think for the first time ever, we haven’t tried to make music to suit a specific time,” says Stine. “In the past, we’ve always come up with a concept for each album, but this time the concept was just to sound like the true Alphabeat – to focus on what we felt like making rather than try to nail a certain style.” Anders agrees: “We wanted to sound like people – like me and Stine – and to capture that energy of the six of us playing together.”

Getting personal

Danish hit genius Emil Falk has produced the album, something that, according to the singers, allowed them to focus wholeheartedly on the songwriting. “We know each other from ages ago. He’s a great guy, and we have a great deal of respect for his work,” says Anders. “He just fits with the band – there’s great chemistry there. I remember the first demo we did of Shadows, when we thought it was great. Then we went into the studio with Emil and recorded everything from scratch, and he made the demo into a record; it added a whole new layer. It’s been a long time since we’ve sounded that good as a band.”

Photo © Tom McKenzie | It sounds as though it’s been a home-coming in more ways than one. Indeed, the first two singles from their upcoming album make writing pop songs sound easy, both characterised by a catchy confidence

A big change from previous albums is that Stine has played an active part in the songwriting process, perhaps a natural progression after going solo for a bit and releasing her own, more personal compositions. “When Stine went solo, she started writing these super personal songs, and it really inspired us as songwriters too,” says Anders, and Stine continues: “It’s just something I needed to do. It took about five years for me to feel stronger, to feel proud and improve as a songwriter. I didn’t have the confidence before to go into the room and write with Anders SG and Anders B, but now I do, and we all feel much stronger for it.”

Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore is yet another suite of songs oozing with joy, and the band often talks about the importance of having fun and its influence on their songwriting as well as live gigs. Looking at fellow Scandinavian pop exports like Lykke Li, Robyn, Aurora and Sigrid, it’s hard not to wonder if the Danes lost out on some of that Nordic melancholy and earnestness in favour of a happy-go-lucky innocence. “We’re not walking around dancing all the time, it’s just what happens when we get together – happy pop music is what we love doing,” reflects Stine, “but we have days when we’re sad and tired – that’s what Shadows is about, that there are times in life when you’ve got to pull yourself together and focus on what’s positive to find hope. We’ve grown in that way as well – we’d never have written a song like that before.”

Giving it 200 per cent

You’d sure hope they’d have grown: more than a decade has passed since the gang of 20-somethings started out, and they’re now in their 30s. But has maturity changed how they feel about music and the band? “In some ways it’s changed, and in some ways it’s completely the same. We’re six people who know each other extremely well and have an incredible amount of fun together – but we’re mature enough now to write songs that are a bit more personal, and we’re also appreciating every second much more now that we’ve had a break with a chance to think about how unique this is, the energy we have together,” says Stine. “Every time we walk on stage, we think that this could be the last gig we ever do, and we give it 200 per cent.”

With a string of gigs throughout Denmark between now and February and four shows scheduled for the UK in April (two in London, one in Brighton and one in Glasgow), the band seems only delighted to be back on the horse. “We did a small gig in London earlier this spring and really didn’t know if anyone would be up for coming, thinking that maybe people had forgotten about us – but it was a crazy experience,” says Anders. “It was the best night we’ve had in a very long time; I’ll remember it until I’m 80 and in a wheelchair! It was so special, because you could feel that people had missed it, like maybe they’d thought they’d never get to experience an Alphabeat gig again. It was just buzzing – I even had a tear in my eye afterwards – and now we’re itching to go back and do it all over again.”

To find out about live shows, tickets and new releases, keep an eye on:
Web: www.alphabeat.dk
Facebook: Alphabeat
Instagram: @alphabeat

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