I’ve been listening to ‘Alpha People’ constantly since it premiered on Pitchfork last week. There’s not many Irish bands who enjoy the benefit of a Pitchfork write-up for a new song. Perhaps the most acclaimed artist from Irish shores at the moment is Jape, yet search for him on P4k and there are no results. Bell X1’s album Flock got the review treatment but with a score of 2.2, it can hardly have helped sales: “As for would-be banger “Flame”, it aims to capture that record-review chestnut “angular” but that would imply this shit is supposed to have angles, something to prod bodies into movement or draw blood. Instead, “Flame” is like getting pelted with a mouse pad before closing with an embarrassingly unearned round of applause.”
So how have Solar Bears been helped by having the Pitchfork seal of approval on the first taster of their forthcoming second album Supermigration? Well, a quick look at their Soundcloud plays shows ‘Alpha People’ has been played more than 17,000 times in just six days, quite a feat for a relatively little known Irish electronica group. ‘Alpha People’ hasn’t been BNM’d though, and the write-up itself reads as if Larry Fitzmaurice didn’t even listen to it. What does the track sound like Larry? Er, no comment. Here’s the blurb: “Back in 2010, Irish hypno-beat duo Solar Bears released the fine, prismatic She Was Coloured In on Planet Mu. The pair’s prepping a new album, Supermigration, for release later this year, and this cut, “Alpha People”, will appear on it. “Alpha People” features contributed vocals from Sarah, the singer of quasi-mysterious Balearic outfit Keep Shelly in Athens; that’s a picture of her above.”
There’s nothing particularly wrong about the blurb – it’s all factual – but the only description you get of the music is that it’s from an “Irish hypno-beat duo.” Er… But the power of Pitchfork has seen ‘Alpha People’ be reblogged – essentially – by 14 other music sites, according to Hype Machine, including the acclaimed Gorilla Vs Bear, Pasta Primavera and Ireland’s own renowned blogger Nialler 9. Gorilla Vs Bear hardly enticed people to listen to it though: “Beautiful new Solar Bears track from their forthcoming album Supermigration, featuring vocals from the lovely Sarah P of Keep Shelly in Athens.” This was pretty much copy and pasted by Pasta Primavera. Nialler 9 had some interesting thoughts on the new track and it featuring on Pitchfork: “‘Alpha People’ debuted on Pitchfork and got in front of a lot more ears than I could ever bring it. That’s down to John Kowalski’s tireless effort and carefully constructed contacts. The dude knows how to make Solar Bears an international band.”
I didn’t look at all 14 blogs and what they wrote on the Solar Bears track but it’s an example of the Pitchfork effect in action. There’s very little added to the original post, it’s just a matter of blogs trying to match Pitchfork, something that isn’t going to happen. Last week, I briefly mentioned the reblogging of tracks just because they’re from Pitchfork. I said that as long as you like the track and think it deserves to be on your site then that’s enough. But when you simply regurge a small part of what Pitchfork says, is it really worth it? Of course, I am seeing this from an Irish point of view and I know what Solar Bears have achieved to date: Their debut album, She Was Coloured In, was one of my favourite albums of 2010, and their live show is a stand-out on the Irish scene. Solar Bears deserve more than just two lines.
So below is ‘Alpha People’, from Irish hypno-beat duo Solar Bears. It features Sarah P from Greek band Keep Shelly In Athens. I don’t know if you had already gathered that. The track manages to take the atmosphere of She Was Coloured In and give it an 80s pop sheen. In 10 years, people might look back on ‘Alpha People’ as a guilty pleasure. For now, it sounds like it would fit slide effortlessly onto the Drive OST. the track has arrived at the perfect time. It’s strange to hear vocals on a Solar Bears track, and it is a sign that they are aiming for bigger things on Supermigration. ‘Alpha People’ could be the start of something big for Solar Bears. Then you’ll be stuck for the tomes on how great they are. I, for one, can’t wait.