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Album review: alt. – ‘dysfunctional’

Melodic but heavy in all the right places, sexy, emotional, and sometimes electronic

Another week, another awesome Australian band putting out an incredible EP. This week it’s the brand spanking new Adelaide foursome alt. with their release ‘dysfunctional’. 

As a first release from the band, this EP is a blinder of a way to start. The three singles from the EP, insubordinate, chasing safety and nothingwithoutyou, have received radio play and made their way onto Spotify playlists. 

Insubordinate starts the album with fuzzy guitars and Declan Fry pounding the drums. This song has an incredibly catchy chorus that showcases Dan Richards’ fantastic vocals and has an 80s vibe in places, especially the bridge which has a slight The Smiths How Soon Is Now feel to it. Chasing safety is a slinky, sexy song that will be an instant favourite for many listeners. The song has a heavy breakdown with screams and a wall of instruments but also features a soft, slower moment. It has yet another fantastic chorus, but guitarists Daniel Wells-Smith and Simon Aistrope shine in this song with excellent riffs.  

Latest single nothingwithoutyou is a slower, melodic song featuring emotional, soaring vocals from Richards. The vocalist explains this song centres around a toxic past relationship: “Nothingwithoutyou is about the moment I realised my relationship needed to end. I felt isolated, unwanted, and I was stuck in a state of limbo. But when it came down to ending the relationship, I was told I meant everything to them, which confused me after being treated the way I was.” The emotional lyrics and delivery of this song will make it an incredible one to witness in the band’s live sets. 

Not to be outdone by the already released songs, the remaining four are certainly not overshadowed. While there isn’t a low moment on the EP, smoke signals is a song that stands above. Smoke signals gets straight back into the heaviness with excellent instrumentation, fantastic electronic elements and another catchy chorus. Pariah starts with an interesting introduction but bursts into crashing instruments before coming back to a softer verse, and the backing vocals and harmonies are superb. Following the heaviness of insubordinate and pariah, s.a.d is softer and more soulful to start but is a slow burner that builds to a massive breakdown with screams before finishing with a synthy outro. 

Finishing out the EP is affinity which starts as just synths and vocals and has an almost Sleep Token feel. This song has several different sections, starting slow and emotionally, building in the bridge and leading to a huge breakdown.  As one of the longer songs on the EP, it fades out and is an excellent and emotional way to finish.

Honestly, there isn’t much more that can be said except to reiterate that this band is bloody good and this EP is bloody good. The instruments are fantastic with soaring, weaving guitars, pounding drumming and the vocals… man the vocals! Honestly, the pipes on Richards are up there with the best in heavy Aussie music at the moment and are reminiscent of those of Conor Mason from Nothing But Thieves (big call but if you don’t know him, look him up, his vocals are some of the best). This EP has something for everyone: it’s melodic but heavy in all the right places, it’s sexy, emotional, and incorporates electronic elements perfectly. The band enlisted the help of Trenton Woodley (Hands Like Houses), Luke McKenzie and Jimmy Alexander (Awaken I Am) and Zach Britt (Young Lions/Dream On Dreamer) to help with direction and production and the group effort has paid off. 

alt. has already hit the stage with some incredible Australian heavy bands, such as Columbus, Void Of Vision and Diamond Construct but the catchy songs and incredible talent of the band mean it won’t be long until they are hitting venues to smash their own shows. It’s easy to imagine how great Richards’ vocals are going to be in person (no pressure). When gigs stop being illegal, you’d be crazy not to check these guys out as soon as humanly possible.

★★★★✩

FFO: Reside, Windwaker, Inertia

dysfunctional is out April 24 on streaming platforms.

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