Writing about Alvin Purple has been more difficult than initially anticipated. It’s not for any faults on the band’s part, let me assure you, it’s just been my inability to express in any form of coherent writing just how excited I am to see them develop.
It’s probably best, then, to start with the objective information. Alvin Purple are a four member band from Leeds, England consisting of Carly Humphries (vocals/guitar/synths), Luke Barnfather (guitars/synths), Ralph Sayers (bass) and Matthew Bradley (drums/samples) that actually formed late in 2008. Their first official release, though, didn’t happen until June 2010, when they dropped their first double A-Side single “The Look” / “Stare to Declare”.
The single actually garnered them a bit of recognition, and with good reason. The band picked up where Yeah Yeah Yeahs left off with 2006′s “Show Your Bones”, but adding several layers of pure funk to the mix. On “The Look”, the instruments are slowly layered underneath Humphries’ fuzzy vocal, which serves as a fierce introduction that explodes at the 30 second mark, when the guitar is brought in. Prior to that we’ve been met with a huge bass drum and a dirty bass riff that’s impossible not to tap along to. The song radically changes at the 45 second mark as controlled verses are met with blasting frantic choruses, all leading up to a grand finale.
The band were obviously not content to leave things there, though, and retreated to their studio in North Yorkshire. They spent the majority of 2011 recording a series of singles with a couple producers that will be released in this year.
In January we got the first one. I’m not really sure if it’s a double A-side, like their previous one, but regardless of the label, both “Huh Her” and “Please Please” are stellar, especially for a band still so young in their career. Sonically things haven’t changed too much but there really wasn’t much of a need to. On “Huh Her” the band bring in a vocal sample that seems to be saying “huh her” and that, far from being distracting, adds a layer of dynamic to the song. The track is kept short, but still enough to present Alvin Purple‘s typical frantic energy.
Possibly the real winner here is, though, “Please Please”, which begins with a digitized drum kit, synths and a great guitar riff, elements soon replaced with a dirty, distorted bass and a lead vocal slathered with a sweet layer of fuzz. The track isn’t as dance-worthy as the rest of the band’s material, but is possibly one of their catchiest, especially in the chorus, where Humphries pleads in a squeal “please please don’t leave”. At times her vocal styling is incredibly close to Karen O‘s, to the point where they could possibly be mistaken, but that’s nowhere near a bad thing.
According to Facebook there’s only around 480 fans of this UK four-piece, but if there’s any justice in the world they’re bound to be pulling in massive numbers soon enough. Though a band with little material to their name, they’ve got an incredibly clear sense of direction, and the obvious musical ability to take their vision to the next level. Thankfully, Alvin Purple has more lined up for this year, because I can’t get enough.
It’s my strongest recommendation that you listen to the songs below and then head over to their Bandcamp to download it all for free.