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Dark One

Alsace Lorraine

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Album Review

It's been so long since Alsace Lorraine's 2001 debut album that the follow-up, Dark One, has an oddly retro quality: more than a few listeners will hear this blend of coolly detached male/female vocals, minimalist synths, and twee pop melodies and think, "Oh yes, I remember when bands sounded like this." Despite the inherent nostalgia for the late '90s on writer/producer Paul Francke's second album under this project name, Dark One actually features some key changes from the debut, Through Small Windows. Former lead singer Caitlin Brice is almost entirely absent, with the chanteuse role instead played by Argentinean star Isol, who splits the vocals with Francke; both she and the album would be better served by an even more prominent placement, because Francke's relatively anonymous vocals don't do his songs many favors. "Moody" is the operative term for these largely minor-key, midtempo tunes, with watery melodies perfectly suited to Francke's relaxed beats and spacious arrangements. However, the remixes by Ian Catt ("Call for Papers") and especially Robin Guthrie (who brings his trademark reverb washes to bear on the shimmering "The Tall Grass") provide some much needed sonic variety to this thoroughly pleasant but somewhat samey album, which suggests that perhaps Francke's musical vision needs a more active set of collaborators to help it achieve its full fruition.

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Emerging from Chicago's Hyde Park music scene, Alsace Lorraine debuted with "Dreams I Can't Control" in 2000 on the Darla label. Hewson Chen of Vitesse was joined by Paul Francke to make synth pop that imports much of the spacey qualities of his former band; the product is songs that draw heavily on Vitesse's sound, but in a clearly more pop-oriented way. Although their debut song featured Ruth Welte's beautifully melodic vocals, Alsace Lorraine's singing duties have been taken over by Caitlin Brice....
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Dark One, Alsace Lorraine
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