Azusena, Alpines // Moth Club, London – 9th November

Alpines Cyrus Mahboubian
It’s too easy for new electronic pop acts to get lost in the sea of icy, post-xx outfits being tossed around like flotsam and jetsam by a music industry desperate to pick the next big glum winner. Framed by the Moth Club’s blinding gold glitter ceiling and the incongruously placed military plaques and orders from the ‘committee’ to remove children from the dancefloor, Alpines prove that the xx comparison actually withstands some scrutiny in their case.

Their 2014 debut Oasis wrapped up Catherine Pockson’s syrupy vocals in sultry, spacious textures that hung heavy with xx-like gloom. Fleshed out into a four piece in the live arena, Alpines demonstrate that Another River is a huge sonic leap forward – with Bob Matthews playing the Jamie xx of proceedings, bobbing over his pads which elevate Pockson’s vocals via bassy thuds and ghostly echoes. It’s an immersive reminder that over the past two years they’ve quietly grown into one of the UK’s most arresting new voices in sepia-bleeding pop music.

Earlier, Liverpool-based Azusena (previously Zuzu – name now wisely changed to avoid confusion with another promising Liverpool based artist called Zuzu) had her own crack at differentiating herself. Flanked just by a solitary guitar and keyboard, it’s Azusena’s dreamy voice that dominates, stretching every syllable out into an aching act of introspection. Her set only confirms what first tracks ‘You’ and then ‘Clever Gains’ had already told us – that she’s got some hypnotic talents that resonate best when spun into a web of skeletal production. Keep watching this space.