"I'm hating what I'm feeling, but I'm so foolishly attracted to you," so goes the lead line from "Foolish," the first single from Alpine's almost-upon-us second record, Yuck. It's a fantastic statement of sonic intent, every element working in harmony—the sinuous bassline, the senusously exhaled vocals, those strings that act as exclamatory punctuations throughout—all of which collude to create a plush pop track that lands just left of center. The video meanwhile (watch below) showcases the Melbourne band's fine-tuned attention to visual aesthetics to complement their sound.
"We’ve had directors approach us with an existing idea of theirs, which was the case for “Hands”—it completely turned the original meaning of the song on its head," explains singer Lou James. "We’ve then also had the opportunity to work with a director and create art with them, and the most recent example is for “Foolish.” Phoebe and I had been watching the 1960s Peter Sellers film The Party and then combined this concept with our love of Tropicalia and South America. I love it! Phoebe gets to lay by a pool with crocodiles and I get to hang out with about ten flamingos at a bar."
And that's just where Yuck begins. According to Lou and fellow vocalist Phoebe Baker, the record explores reactions to "first world problems," that's romance, lust, vanity, attraction—and on "Jellyfish" (imagine iamwhoiamwhoami slow-dancing with Say Lou Lou in swirling chiffon)—ego and jealousy.
"It's frustration at feeling so affected and enthralled by these variations of 'first world problems,' or superficial kinds of catchments that we come across in western culture," expands Phoebe. "It's not seen throughout the whole album, but there are definitely moments of this frustration or disappointment. There's a joy in the attachment we have with vanity and also a revulsion to it. Our goofy dance of back and forth we have with it, does make for a reflection that is tongue in cheek. I think these tough and sometimes superficial self-inflicted struggles you can look back upon with a sense of lightness and fun. Maybe it's a coping mechanism. The term 'yuck' seems to epitomize all this. Yuck releases the tension of seriousness."
Combine these infuences with a love of 90s R&B ("Damn Baby," "Up for Air") and Miyazaki films, Alpine mark II comes off rich and sophisticated, well conceived from every angle.
"Tim, who does all our album artwork and posters, came up with this color scheme that perfectly took us away from pastels and brought us into the primary and noisy palette," says Lou. "Primary colors reflect Yuck perfectly," says Pheobe. "Sure we get coined ethereal a lot but the new album Yuck demands more attention, more sass, and self-assurance."
The sextet—rounded out by Christian O'Brien, Bryan Brown, Tim Royall, and Phil Tucker—were not always so confident when it came to the union of their music output and the aesthetic presentation of it.
"We have definitely stressed about the music industry's focus on image, particularly for woman, it's a strong and highly influential focus," continues Phoebe. "It's hard to keep your sights on what's really you, as opposed to what's hot right now. There is a lot of fun to be had getting dolled up, especially as fans of glam, but it can be exhausting and stressful. Especially on tour when you've been sitting on your arse all month eating trail mix and dill pickle chips and you've split your jumpsuit for the third time. I think now, being more comfortable with our oddities and more proud of our effort, we enjoy the image side more. We aren't hiding behind any mask. Sure we dress up, prance, strut, flip our hair and pout, but we also split our jumpsuits, have many awkward moments and garlic breath on stage. It's a homely balance that is unavoidable."
With this in mind, and to celebrate the gorgeousness of Yuck, we asked Phoebe and Lou—who've been pals for years and years—to dig deep into their photo albums and chart their style evolution and it ties to music, which, according to Lou wasn't a massive influence on her fashion sense. Thanks to her mom, Lou's lewk in the early years was largely dictated by what was available in Gap at the time. Although she does concede this: "There was that one time when I found out about a Spice Girls clothing store. I begged mum to take me to get a Ginger Spice inspired outfit. WEIRD. Sadly when we got there it was closed. I was so devastated.
"It wasn’t until I started playing in Alpine that it became all about Glam and Costumes for stage that I then eventually began to become a little bit bolder in my day-to-day clothing. I love to get pieces of clothing from secondhand stores or from a garage sale because A) It’s cheap B) Unique and C) they’ve been pre-loved and if those fabrics could talk I’m sure there would be a wondrous story behind it."
A girl after our own heart. Check out Alpine's epic #TBT below…
Lou: This was my first ever performance, aged three (I think). I played the role of the donkey for the nativity play. I distinctly remember it was winter and was already wearing lots of clothes when they put this donkey outfit on me. At this particular show my parents could not stop laughing and had to step outside to gather themselves up again. Don’t blame them.
Phoebe: Me and my dad. Music from the get go! Dad is a classical pianist so I grew up listening to only classical music. Not appreciating it so much then as I do now. Lou: Ballet lessons when I was five. My hair took forever to grow so for most of my childhood and I was always thought to be a boy. How androgynous! When we had performances my mum and sister would come to watch and this time it was my sister who would be in hysterics. I actually wish I could have watched!
Phoebe: A worrisome outfit! Trackies and bracers! WTF. This is probably when my eye for fashion really started to blossom. Crazy suits inspire me now.
Lou: I always loved dressing up! Glam is what glam feels!
Phoebe: Thus began a lifelong addiction to sweeties! I get excited when we tour, primarily because of all the new food and drink I get to try. Haha!
Lou: That’s my sister Fi on the right. We’re in my childhood home in London, England. I lived in London until I was 8 years before moving to Melbourne, Australia where I still live today. Dad had this huge record collection and some nights when he came home from work my sister and I would pick a vinyl by random to dance to it. I always remember feeling very embarrassed by the Roxy Music Country Life cover with the two Amazonian/half naked looking ladies on the cover. Now, it’s one of my favorites! What am I wearing here?!!?!?! Thanks mum.
Phoebe: Take me home! I hated kindi, preschool, high school! I wasn’t the schooling type. A sensitive soul, who now sings it out for all to hear and maybe empathize with.
Lou: I always loved to pose for photos. There was so many in the photo album but this one was my favorite. I think I grabbed mum’s champagne glass to pose for this. It’s so weird. Too many dimples!!!! Am I a gremlin?! Years later I rocked this hair style in Alpine.
Phoebe: Drink! I love tequila mixed with orange juice. I wonder if this had any tequila in it. How scandalous :)
Phoebe: Bad hair in Switzerland I think having such an awkward “do” turned me into a lass who changes her hair color thrice a year! You gotta keep it fresh.
Phoebe: Thrillseeker! My love of adventure is passionate and mild. Like riding a four-wheel mower, lil’ bit wild, lil’ bit safe.
Phoebe: Class of 1999. I lived in Vanuatu for three years. It was an incredible time, hard and wonderful and formative. Its a beautiful and friendly country where I learnt to value peace and a slow pace of living, less chocolate, more jungle, more love, more perspective.
Phoebe: Muuuum… I’m just a bad girl! Me before returning to Aus, from the jungles of Vanuatu to boarding school in Victoria. It was a tough transition.
Phoebe: Before being in a band, I wanted to be a volcanologist/fancy Egyptologist!
Lou: This is from 2002. I went to boarding school situated half way up a mountain. I was 13 years old when I met Phoebe. We weren’t very good friends then. But we had plenty of D&M’s when either of us was homesick.
Phoebe: I met my best friend Lou in year 9. She thinks I’m weird, I think she's awesome! Great start to a friendship that has been through it all. She’s my soul spirit sister. My wonderful, funny as feck, cheeky pal. We’ve shared more than you can imagine, and it all began here.
Lou: This is back in 2007 when Phoebe and Christian asked me to join in on their music project. With beer and donuts we became a band! I didn’t really know Christian then so it was a little awkward at first. Funny to think, because now he’s the brother I never had… Actually all the guys in Alpine are.
Lou: Before a headline show in Sydney a few years ago, my best friend from back in the day sent me this photo of a letter I wrote. We had made little time capsules and hid notes behind loose brick walls around her house. I must have been 10 years old? Best letter!
Lou: I love this. It was around 2010 and was one from one of the first ever photoshoots we did. We ran around like manic pixies throwing copious amounts of paint at each other in the freezing cold in a forest three hours drive from Melbourne.
Lou: This is from our first ever show overseas back in 2012 in LA at a night called Bardot. We’d only just arrived that day and we were so delirious. I think to celebrate being in LA we had dinner at Hooters! Gross! It was an incredibly special show. After this we played in New York for the first time, followed by our first SXSW experience in Austin. This was the beginning of many crazy touring adventures in North America.
Lou: This is the following year. To this day, our experiences of performing at SXSW in Austin are still right up there as being the best. It’s not easy. It’s chaotic. Actually it’s an insane experience and I’m sure anyone who’s done it gets where I’m coming from. But the vibe was and is always amazing and electric. SXSW taught us how to really work together as a band. Going through all of it with your best mates, well in fact that made the exhaustion worth it. If we didn’t do SXSW, we wouldn’t have got singed in the States. Can’t wait to go back!
Lou: Our first American TV debut was on Jimmy Kimmel in LA, also in 2013. Richard Simmons was on the show that night too and announced that he would like to shower Phoebe with champagne and hand feed her chocolate godiver. Straight after that performance, with too much adrenalin we took the red eye flight over to New York to continue our tour with Empire of the Sun. We cray!
Lou: This photo below is of the crowd we performed to in New York the following night. Ah-mazing! This was a real pinch me moment!
Phoebe: We talk absolute rubbish most of the time. Here’s us goofing around in the studio with our friend and producer Dann Hume. We are a confusing mess and we love it.
Phoebe: Oh so moody. From dork to glam mam.’ Performing is a pleasure that we work hard at. Vulnerable and owning it at the same time is a balance that has taken a while to master. I think we are getting it now.
Phoebe: Over 10 years later and still going strong! Sharing something that is filled with love and fear; being in a band.
Phoebe: Keeping it together ;)
Phoebe: Passion for food alive and well as the fire ignites in DC with a giant slice of heaven.
Lou: Here we are taking a break while recording our new album Yuck in Melbourne in 2014. I have to say it was the most joyous experience. We’re much more comfortable with our identity and are aware of our influences now. #winning
Phoebe: My siblings from other parents. We have a bond as powerful as the Niagara falls, which is behind us btw.
Kim Taylor Bennett has already listened to Yuck 17 times this week. She's on Twitter.