British Explorer is the three track EP from Oxford hailing five piece Alphabet Backwards. There’s been no small amount of attention relished on this group, with the likes of Cerys Matthews and Steve Lamacq lending their support to the bands brand of sunshine infused pop.
British Explorer should serve as a tantalising sample of the sugary delights this quintet can produce. Frontman, James Hitchman’s vocals take prominence in leading track, Taller, subtly accompanied by down played guitar and bandmate, Steph’s, harmonious backing vocals. This band are blatantly and unashamedly out to make an easily digested pop record, if you like your music brooding and serious with thought provoking lyrics, you won’t find it here. Taller tells the tale of seeing an ex in the street and, in short, wondering if she misses you, that’s about as dark as this bout of unadulterated pop gets.
Tonight has a much more electronic vibe courtesy of Bob Tom’s keys. It’s a quality that gives the track an edge over its neighbour, the lyrics however remain vapid and hollow, there’s little substance to be had here. Even the initially interesting and distinctive electro becomes overdone and cheesy towards the end. Big Top doesn’t really do enough to fully recover your attention, it’s too similar to what’s come before, there’s nothing here to make it stand out.
British Explorer is perhaps not the fairest means of judging Alphabet Backwards, three songs gives a fairly limited scope. As a taster of what the Oxford five are serving up though it doesn’t leave me craving more. The band are preoccupied with establishing their pop niche and not concerned enough with varying it and teasing the limits of their chosen genre.