Single Review: Alpines – Empire

Photo: Gustavo Papelo

As their highly anticipated debut record awaits release, Bob Matthews and Catherine Pockson have geared up a little release to tide us over. Why ‘Cocoon’, their earlier output, wasn’t number one for weeks on end is a mystery that may never be solved, but ‘Empire’, their latest single release, is even more captivating, haunting and atmospheric than it’s predecessors and it is quite something to behold.

Pulsating drums power through the track, beneath the stunning and serene vocals of Pockson. The chanteuse is every bit as mystifying vocally as she is in the mesmerizing video and channels the strength of divas such as Cher whilst demonstrating an expert ability to withdraw the emotion when necessary – you won’t be sledgehammered with feeling until Alpines want you to be.

Whilst we’re discussing the hard-hitting aspects, the band absolutely deliver on the crescendos. They have never been afraid of a big chorus as their past material proves and the chorus of ‘Empire’ is as gigantic as it’s title suggests. It begs you to sing along, if you can reach the vertigo-inducing heights Catherine hits with ease and even on this studio cut, ‘Empire’ manages to convey the exact reason it is such a live highlight – the overwhelming desire to throw your hands up and chant that memorable hook back at the pair.

Catherine and Bob are easily one of the greatest double acts to surface from these shores; an immense vocal delivery in Pockson and expert musicianship from Matthews, teamed with inimitable compositions that are both striking and unforgettable. What the charts need every now and again is a spice of alternative to keep things fresh and exciting – ‘Empire’ boasts enough mainstream sensibility to become that crossover hit, but should it not succeed in doing so, Alpines can remain as our little secret and boast of the magic that the underground evokes.

Photo: Gustavo Papelo
Words: Simon McMurdo


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