Monday, January 23, 2012
Just A Lonely Seabird, Just A Couple o' Hunks: The Alessi Brothers- Alessi (1977)
Here's Alessi, the debut LP from the acceptably handsome twin brothers Billy and Bobby Alessi. The sound here will likely make sense in the context of the milieu of quintessentially Californian, 70's middle-of-the-road, teen-oriented radio pop acts, and sounds a lot like late-period Bee Gees ballads, The Carpenters, or later Beach Boys (especially some of the Bruce Johnston material). On that level, the record is interesting enough; there may not be a song on here as good as the Beach Boy's "Tears in the Morning," but they're all at least as good as "Deirdre" (which almost seems to be the blueprint for their sound). Fortunately, it doesn't need to function solely as a derivative also-ran to better acts, or solely as a time capsule, because it's actually pretty great in its own way.
Don't get me wrong, it's no forgotten masterpiece (edit- or is it? Or is it?). It's just an immensely lovable slice of breezy boatin' music with extremely decent songwriting, sugary harmonies, and just enough drum machines and weird synthesizer flourishes to give it teeth. It's the kind of thing that should be playing out of a little baby blue portable radio while you lounge in a deck chair, watching gals in white bikinis frolic in the pool. Perfect for a falling-in-love montage that involves a yellowy sunset and feathered hair on the beach, smiling on a clean white sailboat, tennis shorts on the boardwalk... I conjure up these clichés to stress the archetypal specificity, rather than to illustrate nostalgia-inflamed kitsch-- but please, have fun with this record in your own way.
While the majority of the album is as chipper and wholesome as a 14-year old girl pinning up an Alessi Bros Tiger Beat fold out, some of the best moments are when it gets ever so slightly weird, exemplified in the bookends "Do You Feel It?", drenched in synths and graced by a white-funky rhythm workout to die for (dipping its toe into Dennis Wilson territory), and "Seabird", a drum-machine driven curio with intriguingly imperfect double-tracking and wonderful lyrics. Both of these tracks manage to be actually cool, and "Seabird" is a teeny tiny masterpiece, single-handedly elevating the quality and integrity of the entire record.
Updated opinions: I just wanted to pop in and say that I haven't been able to stop listening to this. It's so much better than it seems at a first glance. So amazing. Upgraded to masterpiece status.
And here's a video for the album's single, "Oh Lori", which became a top ten hit in eighteen countries (non-US)-- and their only hit until another in 1982 (this time in the US).