‘If your aren’t left with a smile on your face, after listening once, listen twice.’
Intro to The Alpacas:
Sometimes when you discover one artist it unexpectedly leads you to discover another and in the case of The Alpacas, this is very much the case. Heading to the
launch event of WADE, supported by Voice of Aiko, a night of great music in support of a great cause was promised. Hearing the touching musicality of this duo – or at least I thought it was a duo at the time – made me want to hear more. Therefore you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that this was only a couple of the members from the six strong band that is The Alpacas. Bringing a multi-national approach as well as a multi-genre sound, ‘I Learned’ perfectly showcases music that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
Beginning rather unassumingly, and generating an effortlessly joyful atmosphere, a mix of picked and strummed acoustic guitar greets us. Setting up a carefree sound, it perfectly reflects the sensation we can expect to feel throughout the track and warming you, you feel like it will take you away to the happiest of musical places. And this is exactly what is about to happen.
Proving this intention immediately, the opening moments contain little to deter or distract you from your listening experience. Engaged, by the gently evolving, folk-infused accompaniment, your spirits are lifted in the most musical of ways and joined by charming softness of Andrei’s vocal, you start to feel shamelessly happy. There is however no doubting that this is music from the heart and delivering the initial lyrics of ‘I learned once, I learned twice, love takes sacrifice’ you feel touched. This said, with the a range of delicate motifs dancing around, the focus heads firmly toward playful positivity than soothing self-indulgence.
Building both texturally and instrumentally as we head toward to the second verse, a more driving edge breaks through. Containing electric guitar lines alongside violin, there is a real clash of influences and sounding in places more like a jam-session than a finalised track, you wouldn’t expect it to work. This though is very much not the case as somehow, everything – and I mean everything – magically combines to create a sound that’s incredibly polished and ironically, incredibly well thought out.
Moving toward the mid-point of the track, the sense of organised chaos just now gets paired back – albeit for only a few seconds – to reveal a beautiful moment of lyrical echo. Projected on both male and female vocals, the setting of previous lyrics is compositionally conversation like and encourages us to peak further behind the words themselves. However, following these more reflective moments, the folky-rock influenced sound shifts a gear from before and now featuring rhythmically dominating drums, a carefree, celebratory sound emerges.
Turning our attention once more to the reflective moments, the climactic sound fades to give a reduction in the accompanying elements. Allowing the charming vocal to come through again, it feels a world away from where we just were. However, with selective, interlocking harmonica based motives working among the lyrics, we thankfully never lose the connection between melodic and accompanying content.
Likewise, setting the phrase ‘my spirit grows inside,’ to an accompaniment that does exactly that – grows – and following up an elation-filled exclamation of ‘I love you, I love you,’ with the toe-tapping atmosphere, the theme continues right to the end. Determined to leave you with a smile on your face, if you don’t love ‘I Learned’ after listening once, listen twice.