Aloha Hopping with Alpha Hopper

Hailing from the bleak environs of Buffalo, New York, math rock quartet Alpha Hopper released ‘Aloha Hopper’, their second full–length album and the follow–up to 2016’s ‘Last Chance Power Drive’, earlier this year. The band, who eschew a bassist and comprise a singer, two guitarists, and a drummer, have composed and recorded 11 songs that should appeal to those who miss 90s bands like The Jesus Lizard, Drive Like Jehu, and Unwound.

Opening song ‘Supermoon’ demonstrates the band’s sound well, with John Toohill and Ryan McMullen’s guitars tuned lowly and highly respectively, while front woman Irene Rekhviashvilli wails like Siouxsie Sioux and Gouge Away’s Christina Michelle over the noise they create. Drummer Doug Scheider’s contributions come to the fore on ‘X3’ and ‘Mars’ (the latter of which recalls early 00s noiseniks Mclusky).

The rhythms of ‘Once Again with Feeling’ and ‘You Eat’ have an infectious, head–nodding quality to them, which are not deprived of power by the lack of bass–playing. The way the lead and rhythm guitars and drums all work in perfect synchronicity on ‘Whatever Winter’ is also impressive.

Scheider’s drums take on a hip hop–esque beat on ‘Trade–Off’ while the vocal melody shouted out by Rekhviashvilli recalls the Pixies’ ‘Alec Eiffel’. ‘Pancake Girl’ is an apotheosis of Alpha Hopper’s talent for tight repetition of a simple, straightforward chord sequence.

The verses of ‘Line In/Line Out’ are slower in pace than what has preceded them, although no less ferocious, and as this is the album’s longest song this is to be expected. ‘Blood Test’ slows things down even further but the band resume their previous fury at sporadic points over the course of the song. ‘Dawn of the Knife Mask’ makes for a frenetic mid-paced closer.

‘Aloha Hopper’ sees Alpha Hopper avoiding ‘sophomore slump’ and producing an album that is energetic, creative, well written and played, as well as listenable. Even if it is unoriginal, the band manage to evoke their influences subtly, so as not to put off listeners who were around at the time (or those who weren’t). This album promises great things to come from its young creators.