According to The Rentals’ official account of the recording process for Lost in Alphaville, when founder (and former Weezer bassist) Matt Sharp sent the final mix to his main collaborators, responses varied from “fuuuuccckkk” to “FUCK, FUUUCKK!!!” and a subtle “Fuck!” just to balance it out. A little bombastic? One would be allowed that opinion for a moment—until hearing the actual record, that is. Then, those responses might seem like a bit of an understatement.
The group’s first album in 15 years does not disappoint. It is an intense, multi-layered and dense collection of ear candy. Full of driving synth hooks, crashing guitars and lush vocals, Lost in Alphaville is continually surprising. It is a perfect example of seamless collaboration and creativity cranked to 11.
When recording the album, Sharp worked with each contributor individually in order to encourage improvisation that played to each musician’s strength. Once each piece was finished, Sharp began the mixing, a process he describes as “euphoric,” saying he whipped himself into a “full-blown rapture.” This description is apt. Lost in Alphaville, from start to finish, is rapturous.
It’s difficult to pick a defining track from the album, but the first single released to the public is “Thought of Sound,” a methodical explosion of dripping synths, buzzing guitars, and a grooving bass line. Really, though, this is the kind of record best enjoyed from start to finish— and as loud as possible. The opening track, “It’s Time to Come Home,” rides a quivering guitar line over a thumping kick drum (courtesy of the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney) into a peak, accentuated by the stunning vocal interplay of Luscius’ Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig.
“Stardust,” the album’s third track, is a song about the transitory nature of being a human and dealing with a failed relationship. Wolfe sings “We’re all just like stardust / move along / There’s no one you can trust / move along,” and while that could be dismissive when matched with the rising tide of Ryen Slegr’s guitar line, it has a gravitas that grows with each proclamation. As with the album in general, “Stardust” surges and recedes, growing with oozing Moog interludes and falling back with humming guitar drones and subtle piano lines.
It’s clear that as Sharp combined the disparate pieces into a coherent whole, he had a vision of attainable grandiosity. Lost in Alphaville is one of the most complete and impeccable albums of the year. »
– Charles Trowbridge