'The Time It Takes To Smile'
London's cabaret-baiting electro-creeps AlterRed have been taking their audience on a conceptual storyline surrounding the characters of AlterRed and Emily, which reaches its conclusion on their third full-length outing, 'The Time It Takes To Smile'.
Musically recalling the likes of David Bowie, Depeche Mode, The Dresden Dolls and IAMX, AlterRed on their previous albums, 'Mind-Forged Manacles' and 'Dollstown', have crafted a rich sonic formula. One that combines strong electronic grooves with dance beats and a knack for avant garde piano melodies that skilfully blends genres like ebm, synthpop and dark cabaret into a fresh and engaging multi-media presentation.
However there is a shift in emphasis on 'The Time It Takes To Smile'. The album is as lyrically driven as always to create a strong sense of twisted narration, but the musical atmosphere feels darker and more chaotic than the band's usual standards. This is perhaps best summed up by the instrumental songs 'Coping' and 'Not Coping', which show the extent of the unravelling psyche of the album.
Songs like 'Suits Me Like A Coma', 'Spine', 'Dread' and 'Better Than Mending' are excellent examples of what the band is capable of commercially, crafting whimsically demented vocals with dance floor-friendly beats and sleazy bass. Whereas the likes of 'Red And Black Coins', 'Me And Conrad Veidt', and the instrumental 'She Still Fascinates Me' show off the bands conceptual ambitions at their best, with their flamboyant edge and grandiose sense of scope.
Production-wise the album presents the band in the best possible light. The mix feels minimal and modern, which allows Mike's vocals the room to push the album along, especially through the choruses. While the piano feels as though it is being played in a deserted theatre and allowed to really haunt the songs.
This is a fitting conclusion to a compelling trilogy of albums. 'The Time It Takes To Smile' shows have far AlterRed as a concept as well as a band has come in a relatively short space of time. However, the pressing question is that, now the original story has come to a close... where can AlterRed go from here?