Piggy & Cups CD - Applehouse

There's a sweet and sour quality to the Washington State indie-pop quintet Alligators. The eleven tracks on the band's debut, the oddly named Piggy & Cups, feature transparent antecedent influences such as The Beach Boys and The Zombies, as well as modern acts like Radiohead, The Posies, and Coldplay. The sugary harmonies, upbeat arrangements and amiable melodies are balanced by lyrics that question commitment, put a microscope to man's mortality, and philosophize about inevitability. Opener "Where Does It Hide?" is one of several prominent pieces, and blends jangled guitars, lambasted but not harsh drums, higher register vocals, and the polished harmonies that permeate the record. The Hollies-esque "Mama Stop" is a finely crafted beat-pop tune that is stylishly derivative, but crucially not frothy due to its sharp guitar. However, some judicious vocal reticence might have improved the Radiohead clone "Original Fear" or "Snow Children," a cut that starts out favorably with digital trumpets and a memorable opening chorus, but then becomes an ineffective Thom Yorke soundalike. The romantic dance-rock ditty "Way I" has charm, but by the halfway point it becomes tiresome, saved from ruin by arpeggiated guitars that add some verve. The song's bizarre animal calls ending, on the other hand, wrecks anything positive about the composition. It is clear Alligators are reaching for majestic pop territory, but too often the group's grandiose zeal lacks focus and falls short of the band's scope.

By Doug Simpson



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