Attending the album launch event for Alphaville’s Catching Rays on Giant (2010) altered the way I viewed the relationship between the engaged and the detached.
Such a rare event makes presence alone feel ambassadorial. Gratitude creates a bias that I didn’t think would be appreciated.
Alphaville fans are generally hard to please. The band’s credibility is raised by these levels. Equally, there’s normally a reason why a band’s place is where it is.
Clowns in a circus called the material world
Gods without immortality, nothing to lose
Nothing to gain, nothing to keep
Shepherds of dreams, we are what we are!
Alphaville have been thrust back into national consciousness, perhaps in hope over expectation. Catching Rays on Giant charted well, reaching #9 in Germany.
Of course, there was discussion in fan circles, but with more belligerence than I expected. Alphaville frontman Marian Gold was accused of not listening to fans. The problem is: everyone wants something different, and there’s no way to cater for that.
Equally, an artist’s autonomy is weakened once it commits only to what its fans claim to want. The only certain common denominator was that fans wanted a new album. On that, they delivered.
Demands for the esotericism of Forever Young require an echo of 1984. That’s neither commercially viable nor easily achievable. Alphaville’s top-10 album is an achievement; producing for wider audiences is considerably harder than just for your fans (or so we think).
Synth-pop is still in vogue, but it’s flighty. The Killers provided ‘Human’ in 2008 before vanishing, and Hurts have recently moved in with their dulcet and dour tones. Alphaville are a-ha’s natural replacements and could easily inherit more of the Scandinavian synth love affair.
Catching Rays on Giant needs little detail. It’s a synth-pop album, heavily produced, and with plenty of quirks. Energy and cultured beats are tempered by the mellow tones of ‘Heaven on Earth’ and ‘The Deep’.
Tracks from the limited-edition Crazyshow are reprised – ‘Carry Your Flag’ and ‘Miracle Healing’ (both slightly less lovable here). The deluxe edition’s ‘Forever Young’ is a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the covers that have made the song popular for other artists.
Influences and old and new: we find shades of Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, and even the peculiar strand of Fischerspooner.
The release of the second single, ‘A Song for No-One’, coincides with the second anniversary of this site. The album version is sharper, yet the video edit is more defined.
Well you and I can’t tell the wood from the trees,
So call me stupid if you please! Because
This is a song for no-one but myself…
It’s witty, light-hearted, camp, and rather strange. It’s also hyper-eccentric, with the Polari threaded navy casting a sly wink at ‘Go West’ and past generations of British kitsch humour.
Let nobody accuse Alphaville of not thinking enough, even if the execution causes a few rumbles. That suits me and this site perfectly.
See a summary of Alphaville’s Catching Rays on Giants album launch party in November 2010.