Well, he still looks like a prick in the ruff but now hes wearing a big stripey kipper tie as well. So it goes.
Theres a not-so-subtle shift for IAMX on The Alternative, a tweaking of sound from debut release Kiss + Swallow. The first album was noticeable for coasting a bit too much on the metrosexual swagger of its more glam-electronic pieces, whereas the more melodic synth-laden tunes were the gems on display. Interesting that with the second album Chris Corner has more or less made a complete about-turn.
Kicking off with the slightly annoying circus metronome of President, it doesnt take long for the listener to realize that quite a chunk of The Alternative is going to be style over substance. Given that this is coming from IAMX it really isnt too much of a surprise, but a couple of years make a significant difference to your audience (and a couple of years more on top of that, given that this review is covering the 2008 reissue) and the listening public is more than used to innuendo-loaded lyrics and swinging dirty electroclash these days. The point where this release picks up is where it starts to push itself a bit more, to get into your face with driving beats and rippling basslines. These songs arent purely falling back on the tried and tested method of trying to sound cool or sexually ambiguous or edgy (edgy in a fairly safe way, naturally), and when the old school rave synth guitar of "Nightlife" and the aching chorus of "Spit It Out" sauntered out of the speakers this reviewer breathed a sigh of relief.
Its quite unusual for an album to pick up halfway through and run with it, to improve as the tracks flick by rather than sink into a comfortable medium. But The Alternative does, and that is what saves it. By the time it closes with a startlingly good instrumental string version of aforesaid highlight "Spit It Out" youve enjoyed the ride, even if repeat listenings will undoubtedly result in a good chunk of the songs getting skipped over.
It will be interesting to see how Chris Corner progresses (or doesnt) with upcoming third album Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, but undoubtedly he will be adding another piece of ludicrous neckwear to his ensemble.
Fischerspooner, Goldfrapp, Portion Control, Depeche Mode
6.5 / 10
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