Alexandra Hope | Invisible Sunday
Most Likely To: finally give you the inspiration to finish that album in the basement.
Going in, it is easy to havepreconceptions about Alexandra Hope’s Invisible Sunday. Yes, it is her first full foray into the music scene. There are only four instruments on the disc: voice, guitar, drums and keys. (Sorry, bassheads, you’ll have to stick with your Primus CDs.) It was a quick and dirty session, just three days to capture all nine tracks. Plus, most of us got our first taste of Alexandra on, of all things, a Madonna tribute record performing “Lucky Star.” But let’s look deeper. We owe it to our fourth grade teacher who told us to never judge a book by its cover. Plus, her last name is Hope. Every reviewer would much rather review a work by Alexandra Hope than Johnny Pieceofshit.
For just four elements, Hope and producer/drummer/keyboard player David Muller (Fiery Furnaces) make some raucous noise. Post-production trickery is almost non-existent, and the sonic nods to the grunge era are nice and not overdone. At first pass, the similarities to early and hungry Liz Phair are apparent. Then come glimpses of Hole, Breeders, Sonic Youth and guitar washes that evoke the smoky flannel and ratty-ass-hair sound of the day. Hope hails from Minneapolis, but is as far away from Paul Westerberg sheen as you can get. She cut her teeth (which sounds very painful, I’m sure) opening up for Minny bands, before spending some time in France, and even getting some radio play there. I guess the French aren’t all that bad.
Muller does a great job with the production, which is a lo-fi affair all the way. Hope’s voice doesn’t get lost when there is a swell of guitar and drums and keys are never too high in the mix; they are simmering in the background, providing a nice, jaunty effect to accentuate the melody. Don’t confuse lo-fi with quiet, though. “Dangerous” opens with ominous tones, then hits a jam midway through. Hope repeats “I like it” over a wall of sound in “Your Universe.” The lead track, “Whatever You Want,” is a solid indicator of how the album sounds. It’s not hard to imagine her tearing into it at your favorite college bar. You know, the one where you drink PBR out of mason jars.
The beauty of Invisible Sunday is in its flexibility. Just as much as you can imagine hearing Hope play “Liar” in your favorite watering hole, you can just as easily imagine studying to it for that prick Mr. Skatowski’s always impossible chem final. There are enough tempo changes to keep you guessing and listening, and enough hooks to make it memorable. The album fittingly closes out with just Hope and her guitar on “Tonight.” Solid first effort.
Listen to “Whatever You Want” from Alexandra Hope: