When you’re on the cusp of fall, it’s always nice to fall into an album that thrusts you back to the throes of summer. Bright, shimmering melodies and glittering synths just have a way of bringing about images of cloudless days in a park spent sprawled out motionless in the grass, letting the sun rays wash over you. The feelings emanated on Generationals’ latest release, Alix, aren’t very far off from that. Since 2009, Generationals have been honing their bouncy pop productions, and this time they seem to have really fallen into the groove with the help of producer Richard Swift (The Shins, Tennis). While the band has excelled in the past at crafting a few songs on each album that really stood out in the crowd, Alix is a cohesive and encapsulating album that makes even the most stoic of listeners become entrenched in nostalgia.
The album kicks off with a distorted, snapping percussive rhythm before immediately unraveling into a bobbing groove that hops along with a lingering vocal melody, and frankly it’s a similar structure for much of this record. The core rhythm or percussive beat kicks in immediately while the staccato keys cut through the mix as various other instruments speak back and forth with brilliant counter-play. But folks won’t be turning to Alix to deeply analyze the song structures; it’s a much more carefree listening experience than that. Sure, a lot of these songs follow similar structures. That’s natural when you’ve been together for five years and four albums. But Alix isn’t really an album that you need to dig that deep into to really enjoy. You can put it on and kind of zone out, let these catchy hooks sink deep into your head and enjoy the moment that you’re in.
Alix is definitely a top-heavy album, though. The first half of the album is a reeling adventure with sonic tendencies that range from your standard Generationals expectations, bouncing keys and powerful hooks, to ‘80s-leaning romps like “Reviver” or the bubbling bass that can be found on “It Took A Minute.” However, as the album goes on, it feels like a bit more of a chore to listen to. Generationals isn’t always an incredibly dynamic band when it comes to changing its soundscapes up. While the skittering synths of “Reading Signs” and the constant movement of “Welcome to the Fire” are certainly late-album highlights, there’s plenty of stuff that fills a bit like filler. There’s only so much stabbing synth and falsetto vocals that you can have on back-to-back songs without having it feel like a bit of a trope at some point.
But it’s important not to get too wrapped up in the inconsistencies of an album like this, because it’s best consumed when you’re looking skyward in the haze of an Indian summer, waxing nostalgic over better days or feeling blissed out over the ones that you’re in. By the time the album’s closer, “Would You Want Me,” kicks in and the careening horn lines and wonderfully panned synths surround the listener, you gradually come to the realization that it’s okay to not be totally entranced by everything about Alix. Frankly tracks like “Would You Want Me” and opener “Black Lemon” work so well because they do stand out among the album’s standard sounds. For all of the predictability that comes from Generationals on Alix, there’s a decent bit of adventure as well. It sounds like they’ve fallen into a niche but they’re dead-set on redefining the borders that they’ve set forth for themselves. And that is quite an exciting place for a band to be.