Album Review: From Paris With Love by Alpaca Sports (2018)(Elefant Records)

As a teenager I spent much of my time being in love with a girl called Tina. This young seductress was blonde, had legs that could take one bound to the summit of the Eiffel Tower, could flirt with the natural ease of a 50’s silver screen sex-siren and despite her tender years, was something of a serial monogamist.

Just never with me as I found myself permanently in the dreaded friend zone.

After I listened to this album repeatedly, I was re-acquainted with that ‘Tina feeling’. The overriding sense of joy that I was part of her life (for she was a very good friend) coupled with that desperation that only infatuation, be it unrequited or within the confines of a relationship can evoke. It is essentially an emotional partition, but one I am sure many of us have been on both sides of.

In relation to this album, the joyous side of this emotional conflict is firmly rooted within a musical construct that has never really differed throughout the five albums they have released since their 2013 eponymous debut.

Flitting with consummate grace, From Paris With Love glides between jangle-pop infused sophisti-pop and sophisti-pop infused jangle-pop, liberally laced with the sort of the  guitar fragility and feyness that so many late 80’s UK indie-pop bands mastered, whilst slathering the huge amounts of Spanish twee-pop stylistics into a sound that could have been tailor made for Elefant Records.

Irrespective of anything else the album has to offer, tracks such as Feel Like Going Home (see below), Nobody Cares But Me and A New Boyfriend are reward for those of us who insist upon saccharine sweet melodies in spades not spoonfuls to satisfy our musical sweet tooth.

However, such beauty is often apposite to their lyrics. This band imbue the less pleasant emotions of love into the ‘nicest’ of songs. It is the ‘Belle and Sebastian phenomenon, albeit with lashings of introspection, rather than the overt vitriol and sunshine instead of Glaswegian rain.

Books I’ve Read (see below) evokes those ‘Tina moments’ whereby she would flutter her eyelids at me, take my hand, kiss me like a puppy,  before plunging her fist into my chest cavity, ripping out my heart and stomping all over it as she tried to gently let me down…again. It’s the ultimate hurt of  the ‘friend zone’ wrapped up in lyrics like these:

Loving you is so hard to do
You never know what I’m going through
The way you kiss and you hold my hand
Makes me wish you would understand

Similarly there is always the sense of hope that us ‘love obsessives’ carry like particularly ‘nice’ stalkers. Ultimately we all know that it is pointless hope and one that ultimately causes all the pain, but it is something we cling too in moments of heightened desperation and frustration.  Without You (see below) shows why we still go on when we know it is futile as the pathetic sense of ‘what else would we do’ ultimately pervades.

Even though it hurts
I still go on
Even though it hurts
I sing our song
Now the sun is oh so low
And the days have lost their glow
Without you, I’ll never know what to do

Eventually I moved on from Tina after finally winning her heart for a month and then dumping her when I realized the hopeful dream was far more enticing than the actual reality. I was free and I was hoping that this album might somehow conclude with a similar essence.

Unfortunately it does not. The final track suggest an ultimatum of sorts:

I’m waiting on the bench by the cherry tree
If it’s meant to be, you’ll come back to me

However, although we do not know for certain whether the hapless would-be beau finally got his love, the repeated chorus line below implies yearning, pleading and just that little bit of futile hope in the final line. In essence it is all that has gone before, repeated.

Don’t turn away, don’t turn away, don’t turn away from me
Words they sound so true when I’m with you
Don’t turn away, don’t turn away, don’t turn away from me
Everything feels new when I’m with you

All good albums should make you think. All good albums should make you ask questions…this one does in it’s own beautiful way.



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